NPS Crater Lake Imperial Monterey Collection


The original furnishings of the NPS Crater Lake Science and Learning Center comprised three dozen pieces of original Imperial Furniture which was purchased in the early 1930’s. We conserved and reupholstered the entire set.

A note about the use of the term “Monterey”:  It is true that there is only one true Monterey line, made by Mason Manufacturing Company in Los Angeles. However, their line sparked a series of other companies, notably Imperial, Del Rey, Brown & Saltman, and Coronado.  After a hundred years of history of these fabulous lines, more people are coming to call the various lines “Monterey,” as in a genre of furniture that is reminiscent of Mexican, Dutch, and cowboy lines. We use the term because people search for images,
and they often don’t know the name of their manufacturer.  By using the genre, they find more out about their own collection.


The NPS bought the line from Montgomery Ward in Portland, Oregon. The line was made of mahogany, and characterized by heavy iron strapping, with a painted finish similar to Old Wood in the Mason line, using rottenstone as a grain filler, images above.

The furniture had been in storage for years, and now would be put back into use in a working setting with scientists in hiking gear and backpacks.

Note regarding the finish:  We came to this project at the eleventh hour after another restorer had applied a layer of oil to the painted finishes, nearly causing irreversible damage.  Originally we were to do only the upholstery, but after questioning the oily finish on the upholstered pieces, the first restorer backed out, and we inherited the project.

We removed the inappropriate material, left, which had already damaged the historic old finish, and chose to repair and protect the original finish with a layered wax treatment known as mechado. We were unable to finish the final rottenstone dusting which would have added the “old wood” dusty appearance.

Latigo strapping leather was used on the strapped chairs instead of hand-treating leather as was originally done, due to time.

For all the Imperial “Monterey” pieces we treated, go here.

The frames were repaired utilizing appropriate conservation and age-related techniques; in most cases the stuffings were beyond cleaning and reutilization.

New cushions cores were constructed and historically accurate covers were tailored. New red and brown aniline dyed leathers were chosen as the show cover, tailored to fit the pieces in order to be more durable, and while not original to these pieces, was in keeping with the tradition of Imperial Furniture.

Note: Prior to our involvement the original hemp lariat was discarded; MPFC found out close to delivery, and was unable to obtain the correct rope on short notice. This was unfortunate, as most was decorative only and so might have remained. We made do with jute rope for the opening, which was the best we could find after looking at all the tackle shops in the area.  It is all wrong!  We hope to change the rope on the project in the future. 

The new upholstery, new strappings, and the creation of new cushions were all restorative work.

For information on our participation in the Period-Appropriate Design of the interior of the Science and Learning Center, click here.

For all the Imperial “Monterey” pieces we treated, go here.

 dkatiepowell [@] / mitchellrpowell [@]
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