Mason Monterey A-Frames at the Oregon Caves NM

MPF Conservation conserved and/or restored two dozen pieces of Mason Monterey furniture which were bought for the Chateau at the Oregon Caves National Monument (NPS); this page features the Mason Monterey A-Frames. MPF Conservation had eleven A-frames to repair and restore!

The A-frame splats are painted with small, sweet decorations painted in bright colors, and are joyful around a table.

A-frames are deceivingly comfortable, possibly due to the contoured sculpted seat, which is best seen in the terribly distressed chair that Mitchell is disassembling, right.

The A-frame is a quintessential example of the Mason Monterey line, so care was taken to reproduce the delightful colors as we found them.

Many of the Mason Monterey A-frames were damaged in the flood of 1964, when a warm rain melted the snow pack, created by an avalanche. Water poured through the Chateau, sending many A-Frames through broken windows and into the gulley below.  Because of the snow pack it was dangerous to try to retrieve the furniture, and most wintered over in the snow.

Some A-frames were broken into pieces, right. Most had some or all of their finish stripped.

There was not a lot of historical information available from the flood, but because of the similarity of damage, we surmised that all but three of these chairs went through the flood.  Our assumption was based largely on the condition of the painted finish left on the chairs, some of which are seen above lined up in our studio.

We documented all the chairs in measurements, such as the diagram shown below right.

The Chateau Green Polychrome A-Frame Dining Chair, shown above left, appears to be the only A-Frame in near mint condition for its age. At this time it is set aside for the Museum Collection.  This chair was the model for the design on the decorative splat of the other chairs, as it was the only chair with the decorative motif still intact.

We also were able to determine some of the other chairs colors by bits of historic paint left in joints, such as the splat on the Spanish Red A-Frame shown right.

So why take the chairs apart? There were a couple that we did not disassemble, but for the most part the chairs were wobbly, wiht shrunken joinery surfaces, dessicated glue, non-original bisecting nails and even modern sheet rock screws holding them together. Many were repaired long ago by well-meaning workers at the Oregon Caves NM, and some of those repairs did more damage in the long run, such as the screw splitting a tenon, left.

We created missing parts, especially stiles and many legs, shown above left, which then had to be distressed them to look like historic legs. Mitchell used wrasps and gritty sandpaper to distress them, above. Care was taken to replicate them from Oregon alder in the manner they were made by Mason Manufacturing.

The painted finish was the last treatment. Because of the many layers and long drying time of the oil paints, the chairs brightened the studio for weeks!

Follow along as we take the rickety A-Frame shown above left and
return it to the beautiful Spanish Red A-Frame a it once appeared!

In order, above: Smokey Maple, Chateau Green, Chateau Orange, and Old Wood A-frames!