CHS is hosting a furniture series once a month for the next three months. The first program, scheduled for Friday, September 20, from 5:30-7:00 pm, features Christina Keyser Vida, Curator of Collections and Interpretation of the Windsor Historical Society. She will share the history of cabinet-making in Windsor, Connecticut, in its heyday of the late 1700s. In anticipation of the program, I went looking through our manuscript collections for Windsor furniture makers. I found two, both named Loomis.
Timothy Loomis (1724-1786) was the son of town clerk Timothy Loomis and he used his father’s account book after the older Loomis’ death. Timothy Jr. was a cabinetmaker. Among his repertoire were scroll top case draws [drawers], a cherry case of drawers with a shell at the bottom, round tables in both maple and cherry, plain chests, dressing and tea tables, coffins, bedsteads, kneading troughs for bread, window frames, desks and cradles.
For Uriah Loomis Jr, between 1764 and 1772, Timothy made window frames and sashes, laid down a floor, made a bedstead with testers and posts, a “bofat” [buffet] for the parlor, and a coffin for his child.
For Aaron Bissell, he made a crown case [of] drawers and framed a looking-glass.
In the early 19th century, Windsor resident Reuben Loomis also made furniture, among other odd jobs. In 1812 he made Barlow Rose one bureau, one breakfast table, one candle stand and one clothes chest. In October of the following year, he made a board for Rose’s sign. Like Timothy Loomis, he also made the occasional coffin and could also repair a winnowing mill.
For another customer, Thaddeus Lyman, he made three chairs, spent four and a half days working on his store and then painted it, seated six chairs, and painted those same chairs.
Not only do these account books give us an idea of the types of furniture made and owned in Connecticut, they also give us a glimpse at the economy of the time and how everyone had to be skilled at more than one task to make a living. I don’t think furniture makers today lay floors or make coffins anymore. We go to separate companies, craftsmen, or stores for that now.