Nov 20, 2023

West Virginia wood and workmanship

Jun 10, 2023

The "Wild Wonderful Woods!" theme for our June 24th event at Kump Education Center has inspired us to work on two rooms on the third floor at Kump house. Those rooms are excellent examples of twentieth century woodworking and furniture making in central West Virginia, but the plaster has fallen for years when the roof leaked and temperatures changed on that top floor.

The Birdseye maple woodwork was made by T. R. Whiteman at his woodshop in South Elkins for the two bedrooms where the four Kump sisters slept. Four Jenny Lind spool beds and two matching bedside tables were made by George Latham in Buckhannon. There are also antique, manufactured Birdseye chests of drawers.

The Birdseye maple, also known as curly maple, woodwork by Mr. Whiteman and furniture by Mr. Latham where made from maple trees that grew in Randolph County. However, we are not likely to see trees for boards of such size and quality again. It was the wood of choice for much ornate woodwork at Graceland made by European artisans for Henry Gassaway Davis.

The breakfast room table is my favorite piece of curly or Birdseye maple furniture in the Kump house. With its extending panels in place, the table stretches several feet down the center of the room next to the kitchen where the ever growing family ate most meals. The design feature that interests me is the unusual way Mr. Latham built the supporting spool legs for this massive table. He must have set a 4X4 beam spinning on his lathe to shape those sturdy legs that are so heavy that they made a deep impression into the historic battleship linoleum on the floor.

Maple is not the only heritage hardwood that can be seen at the Kump house. Mr. Whiteman made bookcases and mantle pieces of oak and cherry in addition to the door and window frames on the main floor. Mr. Latham made a beautiful partner desk and several small tables of cherry, twin beds of walnut, and curved stools of oak.

Most of this fine wood came from Randolph County timber cut by Wilson Lumber Company c. 1913. Our Appalachian Forest National Forest Heritage Area is still a place where fine wood products can be made. We do not need to buy furniture in cardboard boxes from other countries.

This year Mrs. Roosevelt will once again visit the Kump House to support local craftsmanship and cottage industries. Our summer event will include music from earlier generations, and a traditional pie auction at 2 p.m.

You are invited to join us and enjoy seeing antique wood products as well as some of the new wood products being made locally now.

Our "Wild Wonderful Woods!" event will be held on Saturday, June 24 from noon to five at Kump Education Center, 401 South Randolph Ave. in Elkins, WV.

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