Dresser from Warren, Pa.
Nestled in the foot hills of the Allegheny mountains, this story begins May 25,
1920 in the small town of
Warren, Pa. There the Warren Furniture Company made a
walnut dresser with a walnut pedestal mirror.
Records from the Warren Historical
Society (from the Warren directory for 1932, R.L.Polk & Co., Publishers,
Pittsburgh, Pa.) indicate the Warren Furniture Company manufactured bedroom,
dining room furniture, radio cabinets, secretaries, desks, and bookcases. The
company was located on Lexington Ave. and the corner of Parker St. The phone
number was simple just request 564 from the operator. Records further indicate
the president of the company was a Mr. T. K. Creal. The tag on the back of the
dresser indicates the item was sold to Ludwig Baumann & Co. of Newark, NJ.
It is not know precisely how long Mr. Baumann owned this particular dresser
until it came into possession of John & Anne Fitch of Saranac Lake. The
Warren Furniture Company stayed in existence until about 1935.
The Fitch's have owned the dresser for approximately 30+ years, keeping it at
their summer home on Upper Saranac Lake in the town of Saranac Lake, NY. Over
the years, the dresser has seen its share of wear. In mid May 2000, Mrs. Fitch
called to inquire about refinishing the dresser. She knew nothing of its
manufacture date, where it was made or of my origins. She simply had a dresser
in need of refinishing
Upon examining the dresser, the top had several scratches in the now almost
black finish, some rather deep. I was afraid they went into the wood top. There
was a small black round circle in the back right side of the top. I looked as
thought something had burned the circle into the finish. The drawers were in
very good condition. The joints in the corners were still solid. The mirror was
likewise in good condition. The silvering in the mirror did show its age
Without knowing the history of the piece, I started stripping the dresser on
May 28, 2000. On the underside of one of the top dresser drawers I found the
date stamped on the bottom - May 25 '20, indicating it was made May 25, 1920. It
was being reborn almost 80 years to the day of its manufacture date! The best
surprise was yet to come. As I worked on stripping the back of the dresser, I
examined the sale tag located on the bottom left corner of the dresser. In big
black handwritten lettering, it indicated the piece was sold to Ludwig Baumann
& Co., of Newark, NJ. As I looked closer in smaller red typed lettering was
the name of the company - Warren Furniture Company, Warren, Pa. - My hometown!
In all the years of refinishing furniture, this was the first piece I've encountered from the Warren Furniture Company. In fact for all the years I lived
in Warren (1970 - 1983), I never knew the company ever existed.
It took 4 or 5 coats of stripper to remove the old finish revealing the
walnut dresser underneath. Happily,
the scratches & black burn marks were
only in the finish & did not extend to the veneer top below. After a
sanding with a fine steel wool, the dresser was smooth to the touch. To bring
out the natural color of
the wood, I used a natural stain followed by several
coats of Tung oil to finish and protect the dresser.
When asked how they came into possession of the dresser Mrs. Fitch writes:
"My husband & I have lived in Saranac Lake for 40 years. We had
a home on South Hope St. In 1961
we purchased land and built a camp on Upper
Saranac Lake. Over the years, as I needed furniture and
for these two places, I would take advantage of the local radio's program
"Swap Shop". As our family grew, I really needed dressers. So, to
the best of my recollection, I got this dresser in the early 1970's from
someone who wanted "to get rid of it" for $20 - $25. Since than it
has been in our bedroom holding my things and pretty much ignored. It seems
several of my friends refinish furniture and I thought I should attempt
doing it. However, as I realized the work and time involved I knew I'd never
get it done. Then I found Fred and saw some of the beautiful pieces he had
refinished. I am so glad I gave him my dresser to do and thrilled with the results. My dresser now has a place of honor in our bedroom. I look forward
to many years of pleasure admiring its lovely natural beauty."
The map outlines the travels (as far as we know) of the dresser,
beginning in Warren, Pa. (#1) continuing on to Newark, NJ (#2)
and finally to its present day location in Saranac Lake, NY. (#3)
Personally, I moved from Warren to Saranac Lake in Dec.1983. Eighty
years & 425 miles later two wayward souls meet to close the circle.
My parents Fred & Mary Lichtenwalter still reside in Warren, as does Mr.
Creal's son Tony & his family. They were our neighbors for many years. Also, a special thanks to
Mr. Quinn Smith of Warren, Pa., for providing information regarding the Warren