Tornado Damaged Secretary & Bookcase
c. 1835; Southern
According to family tradition, this circa 1835 desk and bookcase was built in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. It is comprised of mahogany and mahogany veneers, birdseye maple veneer, tulip poplar and hard pine secondary woods. The architectural nature of this piece is indicative of the classical design influence in American furniture of this period. It was badly damaged by an EF4 tornado on April 27, 2011, which devastated portions of the city of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Much of the damage was sustained when the upper bookcase section was blown out of the owner’s home. It smashed through French doors and traveled several hundred feet before crashing in the backyard. The surfaces of the lower secretary section, which remained in the room, sustained minor surface abrasions and the finish was water damaged. What is truly remarkable is that other lighter objects, in the same room as the secretary, were not dislocated. The project was a testament to the fascinating, although terrible, characteristics of these weather events.