Made in Aurora
Well made. Practical. Pleasing to the eye. Beautiful.
While much can be said about construction methods, types of tools and materials used, and the preferences of the Colonists themselves, in the end these words and phrases best describe the simple furniture manufactured in the Old Aurora Colony from 1856 to1883.
Abundant Local Materials
The abundant local fir was the predominant wood utilized by the craftsman for most of the furniture but harder woods such as ash, oak and maple were incorporated to help provide strength and support to pieces such as chairs and cradles.
While generally sturdy and simple in construction each piece has individual characteristics which hint at the personal preferences of the maker. The use of mortise and tenon and dovetails in joinery also suggests specialized craftsmanship; the proof that these woodworking skills had been passed down through German families for generations.
The Bethel and Aurora woodworking craftsman combined an appreciation for comfort and a limited, but persistent taste for ornamental touches like spools, finials, round knobs, octagonal tapers and spindles, scrolls, and beveled panels.
The Colonists had their own recipes for paint and stains that were commonly applied to furniture. Much of this unfortunately has been removed by later generations.
A Way of Life
These beautiful products were loved and appreciated primarily by the Colonists in their own homes, work and worship spaces. They were not made for non-members. In that sense, one can argue that craftsmanship was a part of their worship as they served God in their daily lives.
Made Possible by Donations
This exhibit was made possible by the generous donation of Aurora Colony artifacts from colony descendants and other collectors over the past fifty years. Examples of colony furniture are still being donated to the Aurora Colony Historical Society, and each new acquisition adds new details to our knowledge. While there is a kind of “Colony” style each piece is unique.
The furniture that you see exhibited here is just a small portion of the total museum collection. In the months ahead we will be exhibiting some of the best items donated to the historical society during the past fifty years. Come again and often!