Full Chisel Blog

August 2, 2009

Jonathan Fairbanks

Filed under: Historical Material,Of Interest,Publications,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 8:10 am

Yesterday at the Park was hectic with a wedding and several family reunions including the Fairbanks family.  They hold it in the family home, an adobe I-house that was relocated and rebuilt at the Park.

My good friend Jonathan Fairbanks attended, flying in from Boston.  I only get to visit with him once a year and last year I had him autograph his tome on American furniture and he bought a copy of Shepherds’ Compleat Early Nineteenth Century Furniture.  Jonathan founded the Department of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture at the Museum of Fine Art in Boston.


I have known about the family for years as Avard Fairbanks had done a monumental sculpture of my Great Grand Parents the Peterson’s on my fathers mothers side of the family.  It is in a museum in Fairview/Mt. Pleasant, Utah.

I met Jonathan when Nancy Richards Clark introduced me to him in 1976 when I first worked up at the Park, then called Pioneer Trails State Park, I had my workshop in the Basement of Brigham Young’s Forest Farm Home.  We have been friends since that first meeting.  When I told him of my background and that I had studied philosophy at the University of Utah, he commented that now I could make the ‘Ideal Chair’, still working on that one.

Yesterday, I also got to chat with Glen Fairbanks a sculpture who did the replacement bronze for Ralph Ramsey’s Eagle Gate in downtown Salt Lake City.  He got my address and said he had something to send me, I wonder what it may be?

I also met another Fairbanks (it was easy as there were a couple hundred of them were at the reunion), Daniel, a botanist (I thought all the Fairbanks were artists) and interested in woodworking.  He bought a copy of Shepherds’ Compleat… and the Hide Glue book and Jonathan bought the Hide Glue book.

 It was great seeing Jonathan and talking of American Furniture and the depressed prices for original painted and grained furniture.  I told Jonathan and Daniel about an oak grained secretary that a friend has for sale in his antique store and couldn’t get $1500 for it in the current market.  They got his address and I think it probably sold yesterday afternoon.



  1. And of course there is the Fairbanks House in Dedham, still the oldest woodframe structure standing in the USA. After living in Dedham for over 12 years, I guess I really should stop in and see what the inside looks like? Sort of like living in NYC and never visiting the Statue of Liberty…



    Comment by Gary Roberts — August 3, 2009 @ 10:28 am

  2. Gary,

    Same Family?


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — August 6, 2009 @ 12:53 pm

  3. I would like more information on the Fairbanks house. My grandfather has said that our family was from Mass. His name was Robert Clifton Fairbanks. How would I find out if I am a descendent? When is the next reunion?

    Comment by Joan Fairbanks — August 25, 2009 @ 12:47 pm

  4. Joan,

    Their reunion is usually the last week of July, send me an email (see contact information) and I will put you in touch with the family.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — August 25, 2009 @ 6:23 pm

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