Patination, the Chairs and Fanny Black Hull

chairs tape 2 I’m cleaning the dining room chairs in advance of the new table that is coming in December.  What seemed a chore yesterday, today became a meditation on old family things, the patina of age, and my mother-in-law.  The chairs have been at our house for 20 years, since Mo died.  As the eldest child, R had been with his parents through all the houses and moves and narrative twists.  He chose something from each era…something that he remembered and cherished…and he remembered when the chairs had cane seats that were failing, and were used in the kitchen at 103 Jefferson Street in Salamanca, N.Y.  Mo had them refinished and upholstered in the 1960’s maybe, in Spokane.  I first saw them at 224 Cedar in Wallace, Idaho in 1969, and thought them beautiful in a plain way…like little deers or ponies, about to trot away.

Last week having rediscovered the word “patinated” we decided to “renovate” the old wood floors instead of sanding and refinishing…

floors before

floors renovated

and then I thought the faded old chair seats were a little nicer for this house with lots of patina…but the wood needed a little work…

so I masked them and cleaned them with a wood cleaning product (Howard’s “Restor-A-Finish)

chairs tape 1

Five of these chairs came from the Norton House at 103 Jefferson Street in Salamanca…the first house my in-laws owned.  My mother-in-law grew up in Salamanca (where her father Orla Black was a judge), went to Mt. Holyoke and on to Cornell…and here she is when she was still Fanny Elizabeth Black…


and here a bride, about to marry Piatt Harold Hull…

FEB wedding

In 1944 they visited Piatt’s hometown of Wallace, Idaho, with the new baby boy, Roger Piatt…little imagining that someday they would live themselves at 224 Cedar, then the home of Harold and Elizabeth Hull…

Mo Piatt and RPH

but they did.  They lived in two other Wallace houses and moved to 224 in 1963 when the senior Hulls wanted to down-size.

224 front

front door

And the chairs came with them.  And then the in-law kids started arriving…me in 1969.  Here’s one of the chairs in Mo’s  mid-1980’s kitchen… kitchen

So the chairs are done…upholstery to be cleaned next week.  I enjoyed thinking about Mo in this year, the 100th anniversary of her birth, and the big house in Wallace…and now the little ponies are ready to trot…

the little ponies



  1. Loved the photos! The house is very beautiful and has a warm, antique, family look to it…obviously this is true. Also, cant wait to see the chairs!

  2. I wonder if Fanny Black went to Mt. Holyoke with my mother! Katherine Murray. Class of thirty something….

  3. Oh my goodness. I love what you are doing. As usual you are an inspiration to me.
    Thank you for the blog. I hope their will be more to come on your new table and old chairs.

  4. I love old furniture–My dining room table is 55 years old and I still love it. do you know what happened to the grand piano in your grandmother Irene’s living room bay window?

  5. Wonderful article and wonderful work you did on the chairs and floor!!!! Come to Az anytime and I will put you to work!!!!!! Loved the history!!!

  6. Soulful and sweet. Oh the tales that were spun from those chairs!
    Like others have written, you inspire us to tend to our nests.
    We honor these precious days that way.

  7. Funny to realize that my “new” handmade dining room table is 33 and the chairs I use with it are 44 years old and I have had them all since they were new. I think I may be the antique!

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