“Jos. Stiner” Chair Lands At Armour-Stiner House

by John Werry on October 28, 2010

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Continuing from where I left off with my Victorian cliff-hanger – I was about to unveil the name written under the upholstery of one of my Egyptian Revival chairs.

I was pretty excited when John Hutchinson of Rose Valley Restorations called me and told me that under the upholstery were several areas of markings on the chair frames. Even though these discoveries generally result (for me, anyway) in finding some not-meaningful-since-the-1800′s model/part/order numbers, there is always at least a moment of hope that something interesting can be found, and in this case, there was – “Jos. Stiner” was written on one of the chairbacks.

I remembered from interacting with Joe Lombardi here on the site here that he owned the famous Octagon House in Irvington, NY, built in 1859 by Paul Armour and bought and expanded (added the dome, for one) in 1872 by a Joseph Stiner, a wealthy tea merchant. I had to contact Joe Lombardi and tell him what we had found. It only made sense that this chair could have originally been owned by the very same Joseph Stiner, especially due to where I was told they had been retrieved.

I was told a story when I bought the chairs that they had been owned by a man who had gotten them from Equus in Tarrytown – less than 10 miles from the Armour-Stiner house.   I don’t know about you, but the proximity of the storage location to the Armour-Stiner house, the written name, the period of time the chairs would have been made, all seem to me to make a good case that they were owned by Joseph Stiner.  Not just owned, but ordered by Stiner as the first owner from Pottier & Stymus.

I can’t say for sure that the chair was part of the Octagon house or another of Stiner’s residences, or whether the other two non-Stiner chairs were unmarked siblings or later marriages.  However, with the one chair, my theory is that at some point Stiner or his estate sold the chair locally and they stayed in the same basic area for 100 years, either changing hands multiple times or maybe just the one time – until this Philadelphian took them out of New York – only to happily return the set back to their perceived origin years later.

Rather than have them purchased by someone else and put into a miscellaneous house, Joe Lombardi and I worked it out that the chairs would live on in the Octagon house, maybe even having been reunited with the very structure they began living life in.

Next post will have some glorious photos of the inside and outside of the home.  While I was there dropping off the chairs, I took a little tour, and a camera…

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

james conrad October 29, 2010 at 8:27 am

Really neat that the history of these chairs has been discovered and the fact that they are now in the same residence where originally from.

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Scott Geyer October 29, 2010 at 11:13 am

Excellent! Always fun to dig up the history of one’s furniture. That got me into blogging about Hunzinger.

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kevin October 29, 2010 at 1:26 pm

This is fun! Great detective work!

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Vintrest-John S. October 29, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Absolutely amazing story and proof that truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. If any period photos exist of Stiner’s interior (Joseph Pell Lombardi would know) they might show these chairs. They are exactly the kind of chairs I’d expect to see in an exotic Octagon mansion. (a far cry from the modest Octagon houses proposed by Orson Squire Fowler in his book: THE OCTAGON HOUSE-A HOME FOR ALL. )

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Marc Andrew October 29, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Pure Magic.

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