In the President’s Study at the First White House we have a number of very important and significant pieces of furniture, not the leas of which is an extraordinary pair of rare southern-made mahogany library bookcases, thought to have been made by Thomas S. Doron, a well-known mid 19th century cabinetmaker, who lived and worked in Montgomery during the 1850s. Doron (1821-1886) served in the Confederate army. and is buried at Oakwood cemetery
One of the bookcase has its original six shelves and is filled with books. In the other. the shelves have been removed to accommodate the display of the original Irish drawn lace curtains of Mrs. Jefferson Davis. On one is a plaque identifying the pieces as having been used by Thomas Hill Watts when Governor of Alabama and a member of Jefferson Davis’s cabinet.
How do we know the two bookcases were made by Thomas Doron? Interestingly, a corner cupboard appeared in Franklin, Tennessee, in May 2000, bearing the signed label of “Thomas S. Doron, Montgomery, Ala., July 1852.” The discovery of this important signed piece became a touchstone for further attributions, according to Edward Pattillo, Montgomery Antiques and Fine Arts Consultant. The signed cupboard is now in the Burritt Museum in Huntsville. A similar corner cupboard with a Montgomery history was found in a significant collection in Marion, Alabama, and a third corner cupboard is at the Landmarks Foundation in Montgomery.
All these have similar characteristics with our bookcases, which led Mr. Pattillo to the opinion that they too were made by Doron. Do come and visit us at the First White House in Montgomery, and be sure to take note of the two bookcases in the President’s Study.