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Walla Walla Abused Oak Furniture SANCTUARY…

December 13, 2011

Last summer, Jill and I took inventory of the furniture in the Shady Lawn Antiques storage rooms.  All of the rooms, except one, had great furniture in them.  That room looked like it was the Walla Walla Abused Oak Furniture Sanctuary.

The animal-type Sanctuaries that you read about are often non-profit.  The furniture in that storage room probably was non-profit too – especially in its’ condition.  For awhile I must have acquired every abused, worn, broken and/or just generally decrepit piece of oak furniture in the Valley of the Two Wallas.Dresser before refinishing

I couldn’t stand to see furniture get thrown away or put onto the burn pile… so one room at SL had become a sanctuary for unwanted furniture.  It seemed that it was my mission to give new life to furniture that otherwise wouldn’t have a chance.

The good thing is that I do have the knowledge and skills to rebuild and refinish any piece of furniture.  Unfortunately that is also the bad thing… some projects just take too much time to be economically viable.

Over time I have gotten much more selective and no longer acquire pieces of furniture that require a massive amount of work.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t occasionally drag an abused piece out of storage… this is one of them.

The dresser came from the Dacres Hotel in Walla Walla.  The Hotel was completed in the 1920’s and the rooms were furnished with the straight lined Arts and Crafts style oak furniture that was popular at the time.  This dresser was a piece of furniture that dates back to when the Hotel was originally furnished.

When I evaluated the dresser it seemed worthy of rehabilitation for several reasons.  First, the dresser was structurally sound.  Second, oak Arts and Crafts furniture is generally still popular and is especially popular in WW.  Finally the piece had some local historical significance.

The Dacres was probably never really fancy and in later years it had certainly become a low rent Hotel.   That fact probably saved the dresser from being thrown out and replaced years ago.

The dresser was “refinished” once – probably in the 1960’s- 70’s.  Someone covered the dresser top and the inside of the drawers with brown ‘wood-grained’ contact paper.  The fresh vinyl covering certainly looked better and probably not much different than the furniture that you could buy today in any “___-mart”.

The pictures show that the dresser had clearly seen its’ better days.  In fact by the time that I got it the wood grain pattern was almost completely worn off of the the contact paper…

I stripped the contact paper off, cleaned and sanded all of the surfaces.  I made the necessary repairs, replaced the cloudy, scratched mirror and refinished the wood.

completed dresser in the Shady Lawn Antiques sales area

This dresser now has a second chance to live a fulfilling life in a new home.  In fact it will have another 100 year ‘lifetime’.  It is almost unbelievable that it is the same dresser!

leaves on top of the dresser...

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