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MPFC recently completed treatment of a washstand for the Mcloughlin House in Oregon City which came from the first steamship to sail the Columbia, the S.S.Beaver. Whenever we treat an item for the McLoughlin House I learn more about Oregon history and the Pacific Northwest History, which is fun; my Southern California background has me steeped in Mission history, gold rush history, Spanish history, ranching history — and surfboard history!
The washstand has one of the most beautiful patinas I have ever seen. We left the beautiful patina intact, with all its charred history, and cleaned and waxed the piece after repairing the door (in danger of falling off) and the top drawer (a tangential split across the front, leaving the knob dangling.) There is still a bit of work to be done, but the NPS has limited funding — a subtle message to support your National parks!
The Beaver was built in Blackwall, London, and set sail to Fort Vancouver in August 1835; the trip took 225 days. The Beaver shipwrecked in 1888 near Vancouver, BC.
The washstand may have come to the McLoughlin House via the family of Dr. William Fraser Tolmie, a character of historic renown in the Pacific Northwest. Besides being a doctor, Tolmie was also a fur trader, politician in the Canadian government, and served as Chief Benefactor for Fort Nisqually. A signature that reads “Fraser Tolmie” is seen inside the door; MPFC does not know if this signature is Fraser Tolmie’s own or if a relative placed his name on the piece.
The washstand slants dramatically in the back, which we assume was so that it could sit flat against the ship’s hull. There are mysteries which we have not accounted for, such as the reason for the four half-circular cutouts in the top of the stand, shown above, which we assume held something in place having to do with the washstand. Any information would be welcome!
For further images visit MPF Conservation’s formal webpage on the McLoughlin House.