Corner Cupboard from Lexington, Rockbridge County, Virginia














Rockbridge County, Virginia

Walnut, yellow pine

Circa 1790-1810

H: 87.5″; W: 41″; D: 22″


From an as yet unidentified group from Lexington,Virginia characterized by the cornice profile and distinctive carved top and waist friezes and straight back returns. Excellent old and mellow finish and original condition.  An important piece of Valley decorative arts history.





Lexington or Rockbridge County, Virginia

Descended in the Locker Family of Rockbridge County

Commentary:  The distinctive carved frieze and similarly carved waist identify this corner cupboard as part of a small group of case pieces produced in a Rockbridge County, Virginia  shop whose master has yet to be identified.  Also characteristic of this group are the cornice profile and use of straight (90degree) rather than canted returns.  Several cabinetmakers are known to have worked in Rockbridge and its county seat the town of Lexington. Based on their known working dates and attributed output, Hugh McGuffin, James Barrett and William Henry McClung are the most likely candidates as the makers of this cupboard.

According to a note left in the corner cupboard, the cupboard was in a house owned by the Locker Family located across the Maury River from the Locker brick plant near Glasgow.  Locker is said to have given the cupboard (saved by workmen from the plant) to the tenants of the house, Emmett and Maud Leech, when the house burned circa 1919.  The cupboard then descended to Etna Leech Clark from whom it was acquired.

Lexington was founded as a result of the creation of Rockbridge County by the Virginia legislature in 1777.  Carving the new county out of the northern portion of Botetourt County and the southern portion of Augusta County, the legislature directed that the county seat be called Lexington and be located near the center, on the river and near the Great Road. The new town was populated primarily by the Scotch Irish settlers who predominated the immediate region having by passed the German settlements in the northern Valley and settled in the Augusta/Rockbridge area.  Laid out on a simple grid, by 1790 Lexington boasted approximately 60 houses and by the beginning of the nineteenth century the town was said to have about 100 houses and a population of more than 250.   Fire in 1796 might have been the catalyst for this building boom and probably resulted in many of the replacement of many of earlier rudimentary structures with more durable substantial homes.

As described in Southern Furniture, the case cupboard appeared around 1700 and provided for convenient storage for which chests and boxes had previously been utilized and, more importantly, offered opportunity for display. “Buffets” as they were sometimes termed were found to be “convenient and ornamental.” Records from the first half of the eighteenth century indicate that cupboards, whether corner or straight back, were both built-in and freestanding.  “Corner cupboards of every description were used in the south” and were utilized in a variety of rooms.

Condition:  This cupboard is in excellent condition and appears to retain its original hardware? and most of its original glass panes.  The feet are original.  The principal secondary wood is yellow pine.

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