Kentucky Furniture

  • Collections Spotlight: A Rare Find - A Kentucky Penitentiary Table

    By Sharon Cox

    Figure 1Figure 1: Penitentiary table, mid-19th century, Liberty Hall Historic Site Collections, photograph by Mack Cox

    The Liberty Hall Historic Site (LHHS) Collections Committee believes that this table was made by inmates of the first Kentucky Penitentiary in Frankfort. (Fig. 1).  While antebellum Kentucky Penitentiary chairs are uncommon (Fig. 2-left), post-Civil War examples (Fig. 2-right) are plentiful.  Yet, this table is the only non-chair form known to the collections committee that might have been a standard product of the prison’s furniture industry, making it an important example of Kentucky furniture. 

  • Collections Spotlight: A Re-Discovered Kentucky Treasure at Liberty Hall

    By Mack Cox

    Fig. 1Figure 1. This fancy chair (one of six) and fancy settee date from about 1820 to 1830 and were early furnishings of Liberty Hall. They are attributed to the same anonymous chair making shop, which was likely located in Frankfort or Lexington.

    A gilded ball over a spike and ball foot caught my eye. It was visible below a protective sheet in Liberty Hall’s attic. As I raised the sheet, a magnificent Kentucky fancy chair appeared (Figure 1). It was painted vermillion red with chromium yellow, black, and gold leaf accents. The paint was original and pristine, and the original rush seat intact. It was as if the chair had been stored, untouched for centuries. Under adjoining sheets were five more matching chairs.  Although exhibiting heat damage (bubbled & faded paint with craquelure), perhaps from a mid-20th century fire at Liberty Hall, the additional chairs were in unusually good condition.