Virginia Craftsmen Showroom
The Hardesty-Higgins House Visitor Center has added the Virginia Craftsmen Showroom. The Virginia Craftsmen showroom is made possible by the Swartz family; local photographers Ashley and Ryan Swartz, along with Roy Swartz, Ryan’s father, have filled the Zirkle Library inside the Hardesty-Higgins House with unique pieces from “The Old Virginia collection,” artifacts, period catalogs and photography.
The Hardesty-Higgins House was formerly known as “The Craft House”and has been repurposed and remodeled many times since 1848, when Mr. Hardesty, the city’s first mayor, moved his family into one of the finest homes in Harrisonburg. Later, the Pollack family expanded the four-over-four room plan and ran an inn, and in 1931, a new company in town, the Virginia Craftsmen, again remodeled the building to serve as a showroom where they could display their reproductions of fine antique furniture. Local architects created the drawings and patterns from actual historical pieces, and for almost sixty years the rooms of the house were filled with beautifully hand-crafted furniture, meticulously constructed by local craftsmen from those drawings and patterns. In 1988 the Virginia Craftsmen moved out of the house.
Virginia Craftsmen, founded in 1927 by Walter Zirkle, Sr., still makes and retails high-quality antique reproduction furniture. Each Virginia Craftsmen antique reproduction is crafted by hand. The artisans work from carefully preserved and irreplaceable original patterns, as well as precise drawings of the actual historic pieces. Only the finest solid, kiln-dried hardwoods- primarily cherry, walnut and mahogany-are used. Virginia Craftsmen employs traditional techniques to assure complete authenticity. Virginia Craftsmen has been building furniture the same way for three quarters of a century, without compromise. Through the years we have gathered one of the largest collections of precise plans and patterns in the world. Many of these were hewn by the master cabinetmakers themselves. Each and every piece of Virginia Craftsmen furniture is carefully and painstakingly created through literally hundreds of steps by the hands of master craftsmen.
Today, Virginia Craftsmen furniture can be seen at an impressive number of historic locations and restorations, including The Rotunda at the University of Virginia, the Wren Building at the College of William and Mary, and Pierson College at Yale University, among many others. The largest piece of furniture in Virginia Craftsmen history is a table built for the Board of Trustees at Bridgewater College in 1985, and took sixteen workers a total of five hundred and twenty man hours; composed of Honduran Mahogany, it was built in six sections, measures thirty-two feet by ten feet, and weighs 1,700 pounds.
The showroom at the Hardesty-Higgins House Visitor Center is open to the public Monday-Sunday, 9 am to 5 pm. Consultations are available online at <Ryan@VirginiaCraftsmen.us> or by calling 540-246-7028, for those wishing to purchase these beautifully made and historically accurate pieces of furniture.