Was Walter C Cross an amateur woodworker?
With the skimpy info from the article pasted below, it is
not entirely clear. There is no reference to actual
woodworking mentioned, but it is still not difficult to
assume that at least part of Cross's hobby included
reproducing colonial furniture. Rather than simply dropping
the matter there -- the info is too ambiguous -- I will
continue to investigate. One thing is clear: if Cross
publicized colonial furniture, especially at Colonial
Williamsburg, where demonstrations about making furniture in
colonial times was an important feature, I can't help but
think that at some of the people that Cross met would get
the "bug"! Again, I will keep looking.
[Anonymous] "Riding A Hobby Leads to a
Furniture Record June 1937, pages 14, 46.
After 17 years as furniture
manufacturer's representative and 11 years as-a
retailer, Walter C. Cross discovered Williamsburg
Restoration and became an enthusiast on- authentic
Colonial furniture. What's more, he made everybody
in town enthusiastic, too; and he turned a personal
hobby into a business profit.
Colonial furniture, the really authentic reproductions, can
pull a surprising amount of profitable business. Take the
word of Walter C. Cross of Portsmouth, Va., for that
fact. Check the books of the J. C. Crawford Co. of which he
is head, if you wish, and the figures
will show how business has gone steadily up since Mr. Cross
began what he calls his "Colonial Campaign" a little over a
It all started with the restoration at Williamsburg,
Virginia. [brief coverage in entry on Colonial Revival.]
Mr. Cross went down to look the place over, stayed to get
the thrill of a lifetime in looking over authentic Colonial
furniture and homes, and came home with a new hobby.
From then on Mr. Cross attended lectures on Colonial
furniture, read books and visited historical places in
Virginia and North Carolina, picking up odd pieces of
original Colonial here and there.
And then, after six months it occurred to him that real
Colonial furniture type could bring him profits as well as
enjoyment. So he decided to open Colonial Galleries and
really make the hometown people enthusiastic over the
Colonial period. He contacted manufacturers and selected
pieces for stock, assisted some of them to obtain original
pieces to copy, suggested other types of Colonial pieces he
thought he could sell.
With sources of supply lined up, the next task was to sell
the idea to his employees. The sales force was loaded on a
bus and taken to Williamsburg where Mr. Cross delivered an
intensive lecture course on what is and what isn't authentic
Colonial. Then. after a choice spot in the store had been
made over into the Colonial Galleries, Mr. Cross brought
personal collection of Colonial original pieces, rugs and
lamps to display alongside reproductions for sale.
This side-by-side display of authentic originals and
faithful replicas, permits the customer to make her own
comparisons, convinces her of the correctness of the
reproductions, and builds up the prestige of the store as a
The Galleries were opened with fanfare. Engraved invitations
were sent to regular customers and a newspaper ad reproduced
the invitation for the general public. Mr. Cross imported
two authorities on Colonial life and furnishings to talk on
the evening of the Galleries' opening and hired an old
Southern Negro string band to play between lectures:-
Employees, receiving visitors, were dressed in Colonial
The opening promotion proved a topic of local conversation
for a week, and revealed to Mr. Cross that even in a small
place there were many whose interest in authentic Colonial
was keen. Still others -- and among them several women's
clubs -- decided that Colonial life was a subject to be
studied and requested Mr. Cross for more lectures. This
request was filled by chartering a bus once a week to take a
group of thirty women at a time, under the eye of a person
versed in Colonial lore, to the Williamsburg restoration.
In this way Colonial furniture was "sold" to Portsmouth, and
one furniture store was made the local headquarters for all
home merchandise of this type.
Of course Mr. Cross's business is not confined to furniture.
He sells furnishings, too -- wants to sell more. So he went
to as much trouble to select harmonizing lamps and rugs,
After a year of operating the Colonial Galleries total sales
volume of the store is up substantially -- considerably more
than the average in the district This increase is from the
Colonial Galleries and the traffic it attracts to the store.
And although the campaign to launch Colonial furniture in
Portsmouth called for much effort and considerable expense
Mr. Cross is more than satisfied. He feels that once
homeowners gain an appreciation for authentic Colonial
pieces they won't be seduced by every new design or fashion
variation that comes along. They'll continue to add to their
Colonial furnishings piece by piece. A good stock of
Colonial will never be subject to profit-eating mark-downs,
Mr. Cross is convinced. For in Colonial furniture which
faithfully copies originals, pieces that are good today will
always be good--and will always be bought by true lovers of