This week, we are highlighting a set of chairs and a sofa dating to the mid-19th century. The furniture pieces are attributed to John H. Belter, who has been described as one of the most original American cabinet makers of the 19th century. Belter was born in Germany and moved to New York in 1833, where he opened his factory on what is now the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Known for primarily working with rosewood, Belter patented a wood lamination process, in which thin layers of wood are glued and steam heated under pressure. The wood was then molded and carved.
The pair of chairs and sofa highlighted here all feature a pattern called Rosalie with Grapes: fruit and floral-carved crest, scrolled crest rail and stiles, floral-carved seat rail, and foliate cabriole legs. They were purchased by Effingham and Mary Woodruff Sutton in New York City. Their daughter, Caroline Lavina Sutton, married Edmund Elting of New Paltz. After Edmund passed away, Caroline resided with Maggie B. Elting Hall in New Paltz and willed the furniture to her. Hall left the set to her niece, Helen Hasbrouck. Helen willed the furniture to her cousin, who ultimately donated it to Historic Huguenot Street. The sofa was donated to Historic Huguenot Street in 1962 by Mrs. John Harold Van Ness. The chairs came later, in 2019, from Susan Huff, granddaughter of Mrs. John Harold Van Ness.
Chairs: HHS Permanent Collection, Gift of Susan Huff
Sofa: HHS Permanent Collection, Gift of Mrs. John Harold Van Ness