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January 9, 2012

Working Wood in the 18th Century Conference Fabricates the Very First Family’s Fine Furniture

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation partners with George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Fine Woodworking magazine to present the 14th annual Working Wood in the 18th Century conference in duplicate sessions Jan. 22-25 and 26-29. Space is still available in the Jan. 22-25 session.

Presented in the Hennage Auditorium of Colonial Williamsburg’s the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, “Working Wood in the 18th Century: Furniture of George and Martha Washington” explores, with the guidance of curators and restoration staff, Mount Vernon — Washington’s home — and the furniture acquired for it.

Colonial Williamsburg cabinetmakers from the Historic Area’s Anthony Hay Shop will demonstrate the reproduction of two pieces from Mount Vernon today:

  • a lady’s knee-hole bureau table made in Williamsburg at the Peter Scott shop, sold to Daniel Parke Custis, Martha Washington’s first husband, in 1754, and brought by Martha to Mount Vernon after she married Washington in 1759, and
  • an elaborate sculptural candle stand, or torchère, that George Washington purchased for £ 3.10 on December 2, 1759, from the Scottish cabinetmaker James Allan who was then working in Fredericksburg.

    Guest cabinetmakers will lead the program into the Federal period. Berryville’s Jeff Headley and Steve Hamilton of Mack S. Headley and Sons will reproduce one of the Washingtons’ dining chairs made by John Aitken of Philadelphia in 1797. Dan Faia of Boston’s North Bennet Street School will construct a delicate inlaid Pembroke, or breakfast, table.

    Colonial Williamsburg’s joiners will demonstrate sash construction by reproducing the famous bull’s-eye window in the pediment of the mansion at Mount Vernon.
    In addition, other presenters during “Working Wood in the 18th Century: Furniture of George and Martha Washington” include:

  • Mack Headley, Colonial Williamsburg master cabinetmaker, Anthony Hay Shop;
  • Kaare Loftheim, Colonial Williamsburg journeyman cabinetmaker, Anthony Hay Shop;
  • David Salisbury, Colonial Williamsburg journeyman cabinetmaker and joiner;
  • Ed Wright, Colonial Williamsburg journeyman musical instrument maker;
  • Ted Boscana, Colonial Williamsburg journeyman joiner and carpenter;
  • Dennis J. Pogue, vice president of preservation, George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, Museum & Gardens;
  • Laura B. Simo, associate curator, George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, Museum & Gardens; and
  • Susan P. Schoelwer, curator, George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, Museum & Gardens.

    The Working Wood in the 18th Century conference is informal and participants’ comments and questions are welcomed. During program breaks, speakers display their work, tools and materials; demonstrate techniques; and chat with participants. To accommodate anticipated attendance while keeping the conferences small enough for everyone to be involved, two identical programs are offered.

    Along with the conference in Williamsburg, Mount Vernon will offer special-interest mansion, museum and behind-the-scenes tours for conference participants on Jan. 26 and 30. For more information about the pieces that will be fabricated during the conference, visit the Mount Vernon website at

    Advance registration and payment is required. Registration fee of $325 includes all conference sessions, an opening reception, three continental breakfasts, five breaks, a group reception and banquet and a Colonial Williamsburg admission pass valid for the duration of the conference. Programs for companions are available for a nominal fee. The special interest Mount Vernon tours incur a charge of $75. Special lodging rates for conference participants are available at the Williamsburg Inn, Williamsburg Lodge and the Colonial Houses—Historic Lodging. For more information, telephone toll-free 1-800-603-0948 or visit the website

    The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational and cultural organization dedicated to the preservation, interpretation and presentation of the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia. This town-sized living history museum tells the inspirational stories of our journey to become Americans through programs in the Historic Area and through the award-winning Revolutionary City program. Explore The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg and discover the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum featuring the best in British and American decorative arts from 1670 – 1830 and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum home to the nation’s premier collection of American folk art, comprising more than 5,000 folk art objects made during the 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Colonial Williamsburg Hotels feature conference spaces and recreation activities from spa and fine dining to world-class golf. Colonial Williamsburg is committed to expanding its thought-provoking programming through education outreach on-site and online. Purchase of Colonial Williamsburg products and services supports the preservation, research and educational programs of the Foundation. Philanthropic support by individuals, corporations, and foundations benefits the educational mission of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

    Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s website at

    Media Contact:
    Jim Bradley
    (757) 220-7281

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