A Distinctive Colony Style
Aurora furniture is marked by its simple, straight lines, the pediments that topped cabinets, wardrobes and chests and the turned spindles that decorate beds, cradles, benches, and chest. The colony’s seven or eight furniture craftsmen had their own workshop overlooking the colony on a nearby hill. Their woodworking was only part-time because farming and other tasks took priority. And although individual craftsmen didn’t always leave their mark on individual pieces, the colony style was distinctive.
An Assessment by Professor Philip Dole
“The drawings, notes and information of Henry Fry strike me as that of a skilled professional craftsmen. I assume he made pieces such as those shown and Household furniture was the name of the class of furniture and certainly not an inventory of his own home.”
George McNamee Remembers the Craftsmanship that went into making cradles
“If you look closely where the knots were, they split the wood and put a wedge through it, so the knot portion would not fall out when the wood dried. They wedged them in—if you look at the edges here where they mitered the corners, they were so tight they didn’t use glue. They were so tight, they were fitted in by hand, so tight that I couldn’t take it apart—so I took the rockers off, and the rockers were flat on the bottom, the rocker has a little curl on the end where they used to put their foot when they sat up at night.”
Tools to assist
The colonists constructed a variety of tools and machines to assist their furniture making. These included a large lathe for turning and carving posts, a shaving bench (schnitznelbank) used as a clamp for shaving shingles or tree limbs, and a wide variety of wood planes, augers, and clamps.