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Any ideas on how old this bench is or where it started?

Posted by bac717 (My Page) on
Thu, Feb 18, 10 at 22:09

I spend a lot of (maybe too much) time on the decorating forum, but am here today with an unusual piece I'm hoping to get a little more info on. This bench sat in my in-law's summer home in WI since the mid 30's. It was not original to the home. My theory is that it started out as a built-in in another home, possibly in Chicago. I'm wondering if anyone would have a guess as to how old this bench actually is.

Here's the bench in our entry.

Here's the left side of the bench with an angled cut out area. This is what makes me think this bench was built into an entry along a staircase.

The beadboard on the front is 3/4" thick!!

Has anyone ever seen a bench like this built into an older home?

I'm also wondering if anyone has suggestions for the best way to clean up this bench. There are a few paint splatters on it and it's dirty along the bottom. Thanks.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Any ideas on how old this bench is or where it started?

I'm wondering if it possibly had a "back" up where it is notched out. Are there 2 sets of holes on each side placed about 6-8 in. apart? Bead board says country or farmhouse to me. I'd guess 20's to 30's ( friend had lot of bead board in her house.I asked if it was original to house & it was. It was built back then & collapsed in Northridge quake(she never had termites taken care of).

RE: Any ideas on how old this bench is or where it started?

I left you a message on the HD forum on how best to clean the bench.

RE: Any ideas on how old this bench is or where it started?

Great bench!!...wonderful big wide board pine sides!
It looks like it had a slat across the back and some shoe molding around the bottom...
I suggest it's about the turn of the century and likely sat in an entry with beadboard paneling.
As for cleaning it...perhaps take a little mineral spirits and wipe the dirt around the bottom....see if the paint pops off...
But don't be messing too much!!...It's great just as it is.
Linda C

RE: Any ideas on how old this bench is or where it started?

Hi bac,
Nice to see you over here, too. ;)
At first I thought primitive church, but lean more toward perhaps train or bus depot, from back in the day? Not Grand Central, but perhaps a smaller, off the beaten path stop? Against a wall? Just thinking out loud. ;)

I have a routine I use for cleanup without stripping, probably wouldn't hurt it. Others have theirs. Here is an older post listing some methods. (It got a little heated, but it's the only one I can find with specifics, so you just have to wade through to the good stuff you need. ;)
Were it me, I'd probably clean with Formby's cleaner, gets rid of prior oils and gunks, put a coat of Restore a Finish on for some pep and then beeswax. If the finish is good and doesn't need spots of TLC, I'd skip the RAF step and go straight for the beeswax or paste wax. (All mentioned in above link.)

RE: Any ideas on how old this bench is or where it started?

I think it was an original built-in from the stair hall/entry of an old house. That would explain the little angled notch perfectly; it fit under the skirt of the ascending stair stringer. Built in benches were really popular from the 1880 to 1915 period.
The back of the bench was probably the plaster or paneled wall surface.

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