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Luke Beckerdite
The Life and Legancy of Frank L. Horton: A Personal Recollection

American Furniture 2006

Full Article
Contents
  • Figure 1
    Figure 1

    Frank Horton, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, ca. 1985. (Unless otherwise noted, all photographs are courtesy, Old Salem Museums & Gardens, and all objects illustrated are from the collections of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts and Old Salem Museums & Gardens.)

  • Figure 2
    Figure 2

    Frank Horton with Luke Beckerdite, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, ca. 1979. The author had the privilege and pleasure of working with Frank at MESDA from 1979 to 1986.

  • Figure 3
    Figure 3

    Advertisement by Joe Kindig in Antiques 27, no. 4 (April 1935): 121. The black sugar jar on the bottom shelf of the cupboard is now in the collection of Old Salem Museums & Gardens

  • Figure 4
    Figure 4

    Mr. and Mrs. J. L. Brockwell’s booth at the Commodore Hotel, in New York City, 1929.

  • Figure 5
    Figure 5

    Advertisement by J. K. Beard in Antiques 4, no. 4 (October 1923): 193.

  • Figure 6
    Figure 6

    Cellaret illustrated on pl. 3, p. 72 in Paul H. Burroughs, Southern Antiques (Richmond, Va.: Garrett & Massie, 1931). This cellaret is now in the MESDA collection. It is attributed to an anonymous artisan who worked in the Roanoke River basin area of North Carolina and who marked several pieces with his initials “WH.”

  • Figure 7
    Figure 7

    Frank Horton and his mother, Theo Taliaferro, in front of their house in Old Salem, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, ca. 1965.

  • Figure 8
    Figure 8

    Clothes cupboard, southeastern Virginia, 1650–1690. Walnut with yellow pine. H. 61 1/2", W. 61 3/4", D. 20".

  • Figure 9
    Figure 9

    Bedstead, eastern North Carolina, 1720–1740. Walnut. H. 77", W.55 7/8", D. 76 1/2". 

  • Figure 10
    Figure 10

    Advertisement by Mrs. J. B. Taliaferro and Frank Horton, Antiques 41, no. 3 (March 1942): 166.

  • Figure 11
    Figure 11

    Court cupboard, southeastern Virginia, 1620–1680. Walnut with yellow pine. H. 49 7/8", W. 50", D. 18 7/8".

  • Figure 12
    Figure 12

    Early view of Main Street in Old Salem.

  • Figure 13
    Figure 13

    Frank Horton (far right) conferring with architects involved in restoration projects at Old Salem.

  • Figure 14
    Figure 14

    Frank Horton cataloging timbers from the Levering House, Salem, North Carolina, ca. 1971.

  • Figure 15
    Figure 15

    Frank Horton and Ada Allen examining the paint and masonry of the Gemeinhaus, Bethabara, North Carolina, ca. 1970. 

  • Figure 16
    Figure 16

    Gemeinhaus, Bethabara, North Carolina, 1788. 

  • Figure 17
    Figure 17

    Single Brothers House, Salem, North Carolina, 1769. (Photo, Virginia Weiler.) The brick addition to the original half-timber structure was completed in 1786.

  • Figure 18
    Figure 18

    Frank working on the Moravian research files, 1966. 

  • Figure 19
    Figure 19

    Dish attributed to Gottfried Aust, Salem, North Carolina, 1770–1780. Lead-glazed earthenware. Diam. 13 1/2". (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.) This dish is one of the most naturalistic and technically accomplished examples of American slipware. Dishes of this type were intended as decoration and often displayed on furniture and on mantels or architectural moldings.

  • Figure 20
    Figure 20

    Desk-and-bookcase attributed to Johannes Krause, ca. 1795. Cherry and cherry veneer with yellow pine and tulip poplar. H. 97 1/4", W. 46 1/4", D. 25 3/8". 

  • Figure 21
    Figure 21

    John Valentine Haidt, The Queen of Sheba Visits King Solomon, 1765. Oil on canvas. 25" x 29".

  • Figure 22
    Figure 22

    Cover of Antiques 61, no. 1 (January 1952).

  • Figure 23
    Figure 23

    Page 53 in E. Milby Burton’s article, “The Furniture of Charleston,” in Antiques 61, no. 1 (January 1952). The desk-and-bookcase is now in the MESDA collection (see fig. 24). 

  • Figure 24
    Figure 24

    Desk-and-bookcase with carving attributed to Henry Burnett, Charleston, South Carolina, 1750–1755. Mahogany with cypress and mahogany. H. 97 3/4", W. 44 1/2", D. 24 1/4". 

  • Figure 25
    Figure 25

    Early view of the Kroger grocery store that became MESDA.

  • Figure 26
    Figure 26

    Installation of the Chowan Room, MESDA.

  • Figure 27
    Figure 27

    Chowan Room, MESDA.

  • Figure 28
    Figure 28

    Room copied from the parlor of the Humphrey Summers House, Charleston, South Carolina, ca. 1770. MESDA staff member John Bivins oversaw the production of the millwork, replicated the carving with the assistance of the author, and designed the lighting, while Frank and other staff members consulted period inventories, newspapers, and advertisements to develop furnishing plans. The reproduction Wilton carpet is based on a description of one stolen in Charleston in 1784, as well as on similar carpets depicted in contemporary British paintings. This room is in the west wing, which was completed in 1986.

  • Figure 29
    Figure 29

    Metals gallery in the west wing of MESDA.

  • Figure 30
    Figure 30

    Horton Center, 924 South Main Street, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

  • Figure 31
    Figure 31

    Sideboard table attributed to the shop of William Buckland with carving attributed to William Bernard Sears, Richmond County, Virginia, 1761–1771. Walnut and marble. H. 35", W. 42 1/2", D. 25 1/2". (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.) This table is one of two examples designed by Virginia and Maryland builder and architect William Buckland for John Tayloe II’s house, Mount Airy. Frank Horton sold a house in the historic district of Old Salem to raise the money to purchase this table for MESDA.

  • Figure 32
    Figure 32

    Couch, coastal South Carolina, 1700–1725. Walnut. H. 38 7/8", W. 27 1/4" (seat), L. 80 1/4". The upper portion of the crest is missing.

  • Figure 33
    Figure 33

    Henry Benbridge, unknown family portrait, Charleston, South Carolina, 1780–1790. 43 3/8" x 33 3/8". (Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Douglas III.)

  • Figure 34
    Figure 34

    Bureau-and-cabinet with carving attributed to Henry Burnett, Charleston, South Carolina, 1750–1755. Mahogany and mahogany veneer with cypress. H. 93 1/4", W. 35 1/8", D. 20 1/2". (Kaufman Americana Collection)

  • Figure 35
    Figure 35

    Research Room at MESDA.

  • Figure 36
    Figure 36

    Frank Horton recording information for the research files at MESDA

  • Figure 37
    Figure 37

    MESDA field representative Edith Culpepper Potter recording information on a painting.

  • Figure 38
    Figure 38

    Frank Horton and Brad Rauschenberg recording information on a piece of case furniture.

  • Figure 39
    Figure 39

    Frank Horton with one of his favorite station wagons, all of which had powerful engines but few other amenities.

  • Figure 40
    Figure 40

    Frank Horton sheltering his head from a hot summer sun.

  • Figure 41
    Figure 41

    Stuffed alligator with a MESDA card in its claw.

  • Figure 42
    Figure 42

    Elizabeth Boush, The Sacrifice of Isaac, worked at Elizabeth Gardner’s School, Norfolk, Virginia, 1768–1769. Silk tent stitch on silk. 19 1/2" x 11 1/2".

  • Figure 43
    Figure 43

    Library bookcase attributed to Martin Pfeninger, Charleston, South Carolina, 1770–1775. Mahogany, mahogany and burl walnut veneer, ivory, and unidentified marquetry woods with cypress. H. 128 3/4", W. 99", D. 20 1/2". (Courtesy, Charleston Museum; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 44
    Figure 44

    Frank Horton providing instruction at the MESDA Summer Institute.

  • Figure 45
    Figure 45

    A selection of periodicals, journals, and books indebted to Frank Horton and the research files of MESDA.