Making Chairs for Members of New Cabinet

white_house_cabinetmaker

Washington Feb 16.—Cabinet-Maker M.W. Dove, fitting dark green leather to polished mahogany with a border of brass nails, is busily completing chairs for Cabinet-Maker F. D. Roosevelt. Making the seats of the mighty is nothing new to Dove. He’s 54 years old now, and he’s been at it ever since his early twenties when he “worked right in the palace of the czar.”

“As a very young boy I was in a piano factory in Gomel, Russia, and myself made the woodwork of a piano that got a medal in a Moscow exhibition.” Dove explained. “After that I was made a government cabinet worker, first for the railroads, then in the palace. There, antique pieces would lose their parts, and I would put them back in. Often I saw members of the royal family passing from room to room, and I saw, too, Rasputin. The year before the World war Russia started to increase her army, but I had a wife and two children and had no wish to fight. So I came here.

“When I was green yet and working for another firm, I made a set of Chippendale, a sofa and two chairs, for the White House when Wilson was President. For Harding, and for Coolidge I also made chairs. Coolidge did not take his cabinet chair from the White House as other Presidents and cabinet members usually do, and it was not until the next Christmas that I made the President’s chair for Hoover. I think Mr. Coolidge’s was sent to him then. For the first time now I am making the complete set of 11 (for the cabinet and the President). They are all alike except for the President’s is three inches higher in the back.”

Dove reported that White House dwellers are much more chummy with cabinet-makers than members of the imperial family used to be.

The Morning Herald – February 17, 1933

—Jeff Burks

Morris W. Dove (b. 1879) came to the United States in 1913. Dove has made all the chairs for the cabinet room at the White House since the Wilson administration. Each member keeping his chair so that a new chair has to be made at the appointment of a new member. He specializes in copying valuable historic furniture so accurately that the new cannot be distinguished from the old. He has made reproductions for Mrs. Hoover while she was at the White House restoring the private parlor of Mrs. James Monroe. Dove is shown in the above photograph repairing a chair. Sept. 22, 1937.
Dove’s work was also featured in the October 1933 issue of Popular Mechanics.
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4 Responses to Making Chairs for Members of New Cabinet

  1. What a cool story. I wonder how hard it must have been to uproot during the revolution.

  2. Eric R says:

    Very interesting story.
    Leaving Russia, “before it hit the fan” was probably the smartest thing that man ever did.
    His talent must have been extreme to be placed in such lofty posts.
    Thanks Jeff.

  3. daveinohio says:

    Perhaps I need to begin wearing a necktie and vest whilst in the workshop!

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