Washington Place
State Dining Room Furniture

320 South Beretania Street
Honolulu, Hawai'i 96813

The State Dining Room at Washington Place is furnished with a sideboard, twenty-two side chairs, two armchairs, and a dining table, which held fourteen leaves when fully extended. All pieces** were made by the Luce Furniture Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

: Extant finish (top layer) was cellulose nitrate based lacquer over layers of dark brown/mahogany pigmented stain over remnants of an older shellac finish. It was apparent that most of the original finish had been removed (sanded off) during previous “refinishings”. Traces of the craquelure (which was present on areas of dining table and sideboard) from the original shellac layer was visible on areas of the chair in the carvings, but was absent from the majority of flat surfaces. Finish was severely chipped and worn overall with lighter areas showing through. Termite damage was extensive to the sideboard, table and many of the chairs.
Structural: Wood is walnut with composition moldings applied to the front top rail, bead molding at seat base, and on legs. Secondary woods of table and sideboard are mostly poplar. Dowel construction has been used throughout. The chairs were loose and had been repaired in the past, likely several times, with much of the work being very poorly executed. Chairs had cracks at the top joints at both back posts, crest rails; the front and back legs were loose from seat rails and from each other. The back posts on several chairs were completely split apart. Termites had channeled into areas on many of the chairs and some surface holes and collapsed areas had been filled with a variety if inappropriate fill materials (plaster of Paris, sawdust/glue, "wood-dough", etc.).

Additional termite damage and broken areas on the chairs were revealed upon removal of the upholstery. Examination of the tack strips indicate at least four campaigns of upholstery had been performed. The damage caused by the tacks and staples further split and cracked the seat frames, each time, successively covering more of the seat rails until finally completely covering them.

Badly cracked finish layers on buffet and collapsed termite damage to top corner.

Abrasions/chipped finish and color mismatches on table and chairs.

Badly worn tops of dining chairs and table leaves.

Termite channels filled with plaster in seat rail

Portion of crest rail

Breakage and old repairs typical on chairs


Due to the poor condition and lack of original surfaces, Washington Place curation concluded that complete removal of finish with repairs, replacement of unstable fills and refinishing would best achieve desired goals.

All upholstery was removed from chairs. Unstable pieces completely or partially disassembled as necessary. Damaged sections repaired/rebuilt. All loose and/or inappropriately applied “wood dough” fill materials and various adhesive residues from joint faces were removed. Termite eaten areas filled as necessary with a phenolic and silica microballoon bulked and tinted epoxy resin mixture. Cracked and split sections repaired as necessary with tinted epoxy resin. It was necessary to fabricate and completely replace some sections due to extensive termite damage and/or inappropriate and unstable previous repairs. Termite eaten dowels were replaced as necessary and the reassembly of rebuilt joinery sections (joints) done with hot hide glue.

As the majority of the original finish had been lost during past campaigns of refinishing, and due to the properties of cellulose nitrate lacquer which covered any remnants of the original finish, all finish layers were removed with methylene chloride/methanol based paint stripper.

All of the fourteen existing ten inch wide leaves were extensively damaged along edges with surfaces deeply scratched; most were somewhat warped and no longer registered together correctly when closed. The table leaf extension mechanism was loose/worn, and no longer opened evenly.  Central table leg extension supports were loose and inadequately supported table when all leaves were installed.

A total of ten 20 inch wide leaves and four solid walnut table legs were fabricated to fit the table. A custom built solid wood and geared metal extension set was added allowing table to accommodate all leaves.

Fabrication of new walnut leaves, legs and installation of new table leaf extension mechanism performed by Mr. James T. Ferla, representing Classic Concepts.

    **Table leaves were made from Douglas Fir and were likely fabricated locally.

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Formal Dining Room
Star Bullitin Quicktime VR Panorama - Pre restoration

Washington Place Web Site


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