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Shoshone Furniture Company - Thomas Canada Molesworth

Birth place or City of origin:
State of origin:
Last known City: Cody
Last known State: WY
Start/Birth date: 1890
Death/End date: 1977

Not long after the railroads gave them access to eastern markets, enterprising westerners began selling a “western look” consisting of antler and horn furniture destined for big game trophy rooms and hunting lodges. However, the birth of a true western style awaited a catalyst, someone who would do for western design what Ernest Stoew had done for Adirondack furniture by taking the vernacular and giving it distinction. The catalyst was Thomas Canada Molesworth, a craftsman and designer whose reverence for the past was tempered by his stylish sense of fun, but who was serious about design and craftsmanship in much the same way as his contemporaries, Frank Lloyd Wright and Gustav Stickley. Molesworth opened the Shoshone Furniture Company on Sheridan Avenue in Cody Wyoming in 1931 and, with a handsome commission to furnish a 10,000 sq. ft. lodge from Pennsylvania publishing mogul, Moses Annenberg, launched a career as a furniture maker and interior designer. Working with sinuous natural woods, vibrant leathers and swollen burls, Molesworth developed a high style of furnishings that captured the spirit of the west – a fact that was soon recognized by the New York Elite. His furniture touched a soft spot in people’s hearts – sturdy yet whimsical, stylish yet functional, cosmopolitan yet romantic. An article in Architectural Digest lauded Molesworth as someone who before his death in 1977 had “emerged as one of the most original and considerable figures in American design.” His designs helped easterners experience the West and gave westerners a contemporary self-conscious connection with the romance of their past.

 

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