Julia and Paul Child's Dining Chairs with provenance.
The story of how we acquired Julia and Paul Child’s dining tables and four chairs begins with a 1907 Steinway, Model M piano.
We’ll save the Steinway acquisition story for a different blog; however, as with nearly all things we do, there is a vast interconnection between events.
We won the Steinway at the Brandon, Vermont town auction. It had been owned by the same family since 1907 and was badly in need of a major restoration. In our quest for a person to restore the piano we were referred to a book antiquarian in Castleton, VT, Ms. Patricia McWilliams.
We called Ms. McWilliams, who put us in touch with her husband, Doyle Lane. Doyle, a quietly brilliant man for whom piano restoring was just one of a long list of skills, didn’t flinch at the sad condition of the Steinway. But this would take some time. During the many ensuing months of the restoration we established a relationship beyond the Steinway.
Halfway into his meticulous work Doyle called me to say he would not be able to finish because he’d been diagnosed with a fast moving, terminal cancer. As you can imagine it was an intense, emotional call.
Doyle spoke of how grateful he was that the old Steinway brought us our friendship, and recounted that his love of pianos began decades ago when he restored his first one. He was truly sorry he wouldn’t be able to finish the Steinway. I replied that it was too soon to give up. I told him that if he could not beat the cancer, I would like our Steinway to be his last restoration. Doyle’s somber tone brightened as he agreed to complete the restoration or find an apprentice he could mentor to do so. As it turned out Doyle passed away before the piano was completed but Ms. McWilliams shared with me that from that telephone call until his death, Doyle lived and breathed the completion of our piano. I will share the details of his herculean restoration effort when I tell the piano’s story.
Shortly after Doyle passed away, Ms. McWilliams called again to thank me for the great gift I had given to her and Doyle. She said our piano gave Doyle tremendous meaning and purpose during his final months; she was very touched that I asked Doyle to stay the course. Now it was time for her to clear out some things from Doyle’s cavernous warehouse. She reminded me that Julia Child was her aunt, and she offered Julia and Paul’s chairs and tables to us. After we acquired them we had each piece lovingly restored and offered for sale in Found Objects.