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Handcrafted in Hagerstown

The Statton Company has produced furniture masterpieces for more than 80 years

The Statton Company has produced furniture masterpieces for more than 80 years

November 13, 2007|By JOSEPH BERGER
(Page 2 of 2)

In 1934, Helen Statton founded Maidstone Inc. in partnership with William Beard. Maidstone Inc. consisted of two divisions: a Statton furniture showroom and an interior design consulting business located on Summit Avenue. Helen became the first woman to join the Association of Interior Designers and helped to found the historic Women's Club on 31 S. Prospect Street.

Helen's daughter, Pamela Statton Hardinge, inherited the business shortly after graduating from Vassar College and studying art in Paris. Like her mother, Pamela was a stickler for detail when planning the decorative furnishing of individual homes or planning and coordinating store displays. In 1980, Pamela's daughter, Elizabeth Hardinge, inherited the Maidstone Interiors business. The business was sold recently and is no longer owned by the Statton family.

During World War II, it continued to sell some furniture, but Statton primarily was a government subcontractor assembling aircraft wings. Employees normally responsible for making upholstered furniture made canvas tents.

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After World War II, Philo and Helen turned over the reins of active management to their sons, Philip B. Statton (1918-1988) and Robert A. Statton (1919-2002). As president and vice president respectively, they led company during a long period of phenomenal growth. Business tripled from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s, with yearly sales of $4.5 million in 1976 and the company employed 160. Today, the workforce at the factory numbers 30 employees, all with long tenures averaging between 20 and 50 years of loyal service.

Statton Furniture became a supplier of furniture to the White House in the 1950s when Philip B. Statton solicited work through contacts in Washington, such as interior designer for the White House, Susan Rehm, to make tables, consoles, and other accent and occasional pieces for the Oval Office and West Wing "in the colonial tradition." It's an arrangement that continues to the present day. When President Jimmy Carter hosted the historic meeting between Egypt's president Anwar Sadat and Israel's president Menachem Begin at Camp David in 1978, Statton was commissioned to supply 16 armchairs for the executives and eight side chairs for the aides. Statton would later offer these chairs for sale to customers affixed with special labels commemorating the event.

Since the 1970s, Francis E. Gift has emerged as one of Statton's most influential resident designers. Gift applied his extensive knowledge of Colonial and Federal period furniture design to several of Statton's special collections: Bicentennial Collection (1976), Private Collection II (1987) and Warfield Collection (1992). Statton chose the pieces in these collections "for reasons of exceptional craftsmanship, distinctive detail, or historical significance."

Statton's "Warfield" Collection, introduced in 1992, was significant for its pieces being made from select solid Honduras mahogany and veneers and trimmed with decorative veneers of birdseye maple, rosewood, and satinwood. The graceful reproduction of the Mercer Federal Sideboard with Platform (New York, c1810), takes full advantage of Statton's fine hand-carving, decorative inlay work, and hand-rubbed finish. Scott C. Dergins of Morgantown, N.C., who previously did design work for Drexel Heritage, Kindel, and Kittinger, was hired as one of Statton's resident designers for his "in-depth knowledge in the fields of antiques and design."

Marking a new direction for Statton Furniture, Philip J. Statton has decided to break from tradition and introduce lower-priced collections of bedroom furniture called Modern Transitional and Louis Philippe that do not sacrifice the Statton quality in materials, assembly or finish.

To learn more about the history of Statton Furniture, their team of craftsmen, and their current furniture collections, please visit the company's Web site at http://www.statton.com.

Do you own pieces of Statton furniture and want to learn more about them? Washington County Free Library's Western Maryland Room, under the direction of local historian John Frye, maintains in its collection several Statton catalogs from the 1950s to the present, including Tru-Type Americana, Bicentennial, Private Collection II and Warfield. For more information, please contact Frye during Western Maryland Room hours: Monday from 2 to 6 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. and Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Phone: 301-739-3250, Ext. 158.

Joseph Berger is a reference librarian in the Adult Services Department at the Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown.

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