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

Before Stripping

After 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 however.

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 
good 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 
"stuff" 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 Furniture Company.