In the President’s Study in the First White House of the Confederacy are a sofa and rocking chair that were among the furnishings of the House when it was rented for the use of President and Mrs. Jefferson Davis in 1861. The House had been furnished to be “suitable as a gentleman’s residence” by its owner, Col. Edmund Harrison, who charged the Confederate government astronomical rent ($ 5000 per year!)
. At an unknown date after the Civil War, a sale was held of the historic furnishings which had been in the house during the Davis residency. This sofa and chair cannot be determined to have been owned by the First Family, but was assuredly used by them when they were in the First White House.
At the sale, three pieces were purchased by an Alabama family who “lived at the northwest corner of Washington and Hull Streets”. In the early twentieth century the three pieces were sold by a family named Abraham to Mrs. Mary Dwen, who had known President Davis in her youth. She became the grandmother of John Dowe, the donor of these pieces in 1998. The third piece is an historic Center Table which I will describe in my next blog. Really neat stuff, don’t you think?