Furniture Seminar

March 24–25, 2017 Winston-Salem, NC



“Friendly Furniture: Identifying the Quaker Cabinetmakers of Early America”

The MESDA Furniture Seminar provides a biennial forum for collectors, curators, woodworkers, and conservators to explore a variety of topics related to the serious study of antique furniture. This year’s seminar will be a subject of national significance not examined carefully since the book Quaker Aesthetics by Emma Jones Lapansky and Anne A. Verplanck was published in 2002. This seminar will examine the various Quaker connections in early American cabinetmaking from New England to Pennsylvania and down the Great Wagon Road into Virginia and North Carolina.  The speakers include Dennis Carr, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Alexandra Kirtley, Philadelphia Museum of Art; Lisa Minardi, Winterthur Museum; Nick Powers, Museum of the Shenandoah Valley; as well as June Lucas and Robert Leath of MESDA.

Hands-on woodworking demonstrations led by Ben Hobbs and Mary May will focus on furniture carving throughout the Quaker network of cabinetmakers from North to South. While May will demonstrate the carving style of the Goddard and Townsend families in Newport, Rhode Island, Hobbs will examine their influence on carving by the Quaker cabinetmaker Thomas White of coastal North Carolina.

Click here to download a PDF document of the complete brochure for the seminar.


All sessions, unless otherwise noted, will take place at the
James A. Gray Jr. Auditorium
Old Salem Visitor Center
900 Old Salem Road, Winston-Salem, NC

Friday, March 24, 2017

11:30 – 12:30 Seminar Registration (Horton Museum Center, 924 South Main Street)
12:30 – Welcome and Program Overview
1:00 – 5:30 – Small group sessions including tours of MESDA and demonstrations:
• Newport, Rhode Island Carving Session – Mary May, Charleston, SC
Coastal Carolina Quaker Carving Session – Ben Hobbs, Hertford, NC
Quaker Furniture in the MESDA Collection: A Close Examination

5:30 – 6:00 Libations
6:00 – 7:00 Dinner
7:00 – 7:45 Keynote Lecture: “Faith and Family Intertwined: The Townsend and Goddard Workshops of Newport, Rhode Island,” Dennis Carr, Museum of Fine Art, Boston, MA

Saturday, March 25, 2017

10:00 – “Superfluity and Excess?: Quakers and their Furniture in Early Philadelphia,” Alexandra Kirtley, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
10:45 – “Inlaid Quaker Furniture of Southeastern Pennsylvania,” Lisa Minardi, Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library, Winterthur, DE
11:30 – Break
12:00 – “Friends in High Places: Quaker Furniture Makers in Virginia’s Northern Shenandoah Valley,” Nick Powers, Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, Winchester, VA
12:45 – Lunch
1:45 – “Faith, Family, and Friends: The Quaker Furniture of North Carolina’s Cane Creek Settlement,” June Lucas, MESDA, Winston-Salem, NC
2:30 – Break
3:00 – “Friendly Furniture: The Quaker Cabinetmakers of Guilford County, North Carolina, 1775-1825,” Robert Leath, MESDA, Winston-Salem, NC


$300 Full program (maximum 75 tickets available; $285 for Frank L. Horton Society members)  This option is now sold out, but we still have spaces left for the Friday evening keynote Saturday Program.

$225 ONLY Friday keynote lecture with dinner and Saturday lectures ($215 for Frank L. Horton Society members)


Space is limited.  Maximum 75 tickets available for full program that includes Friday demonstrations. Pre-registration is required to ensure a place.


You can also contact MESDA at 336-721-7369 or email

Cancellation Policy: MESDA reserves the right to cancel a program
and should this occur a full refund will be made. Registrants who
cancel at least two weeks prior to a program will receive a full re-
fund minus a $50 handling fee. No refunds will be given for cancel-
lations that occur less than two week prior to the event.