Tuesday, March 08, 2005

A moving tale of furniture...

A sharp-eyed reader sent me an E.M. not too long ago, telling me about an interesting discovery he'd made while moving furniture down in the Pittsburgh area (happens all the time...) He found a maker's label on the back of a dresser declaring that Conewango Furniture of Warren Pa. had made that particular piece. He wondered if I knew where Conewango Furniture had once stood [Perhaps he'd seen my first post ("Colonel Brodhead, where are you?"), in which I talked about a man we knew who'd worked in a Warren furniture factory].

Well, I still don't know the answer to that one. Perhaps some equally sharp-eyed reader could fill in a few gaps here. But this does tell us something far more interesting:

Warren had more that one furniture factory.

You'll remember that the furniture worker I mentioned died not too long ago. But I asked his daughter if she could fill me in on the her Poppa's carpentry career.

Turns out he worked at PHENIX FURNITURE (I don't know if her spelling is correct. Again, I hope someone out there can set us straight), and for a second company called "Paramount Furniture" (She couldn't remember much about Paramount. I suspect it may have been a branch of Phenix).

According to her, Phenix had a factory down in the general area of the Island Parking lot (Breeze Point Landing) and Northwest's former A&P store turned Operations Center. Later they moved to Carver Street, not far from where she and her Poppa lived (I wonder if it was in the abandoned building that once held Cobb's Paint?).

It should come as no real surprise that Warren once supported more than one furniture factory. I wouldn't be all that surprised to learn that there were others. Think about the mountainous harvest of hardwoods our forests produce. They could have chosen their materials while they were still on the tree...

What might be more surprising is that Warren produced PIANOS. While no more than a handful of piano makers survive world-wide, pianos once came from hundreds of little factories all around the country. I believe the old Charles Warren Stone Museum had one of our local pianos. But I couldn't tell you how good an instrument they made...

Furniture still lingers as one of our regional products, but the only real success story is Jamestown's Bush industries, which makes simple do-it-yourself desks and bookcases, made out of reconstituted wood chips. You won't find any white oak or black cherry in THEIR factory!

No wonder we're in trouble.


Blogger heather424 said...

My husband and I grew up in Warren County, but now love in Somerset, KY. We recently purchased a building that has a lot of older furniture in it. As we slowly clean it up and rub the dust off, we discovered a table that has a manufacturer label on the back that reads "Phenix Furniture" Warren, PA. We were so surprised!. From our small home town to this small town. His daughter definitely had the spelling correct. We would love to read more history on this company. Would the Warren museum be interested in this piece?

6:25 PM  
Blogger thewayside said...

Hi, I know this is long after the fact, but if you were still wondering: Conewango Furniture Company of Warren, PA stood at 115 S. Carver Street. If you've ever seen a football game at War Memorial Stadium, it has been the backdrop of the east end of the stadium since 1901, at least.

It is currently owned by Crossett, Inc. and is in the process of being demolished. In around a month, the building will no longer exist.

If you want more information, feel free to contact me at unfotografic@gmail.com


11:14 AM  
Blogger Jo Haraf said...

I'm selling some furniture that originally belonged to my grandparents. It also has a Phenix Furniture sticker on the back of one piece.

10:22 AM  
Blogger Man Do said...

Hi there,I enjoy reading through your article post, I wanted to write a little comment to support you and wish you a good continuationAll the best for all your blogging efforts.


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11:30 AM  
Blogger Julie Becker said...

I just purchased a vanity with the seat. It is beautiful and wondering if it was to be refinished and the mirror needs to be replaced if it would ruin the value of it? Mirror is showing it's age and it has a sticker in the drawer with Phenix furniture of Warren,PA. Was wondering about the value of it also.thanks, Julie

Ps. I live in Iowa...so hard telling where this piece has traveled.

7:48 PM  
Blogger Ethan Smith said...

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12:41 PM  

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