Inside the OHA Collection: The Story Behind the Object



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If you ever wondered where certain objects in our collection and exhibits come from, than this story is for you.

The mahogany sideboard being used in OHA’s Gambrinus Gallery is originally from the estate of Fred Hazard. It was part of a dining room set belonging to Dora and Frederick (Fred) Hazard. A photograph of the Hazard dining room at Upland farms shows the sideboard in its location in the home. The room design was eclectic in nature, keeping with the overall appearance of the home, with English country home and Classical references. The room had horizontal paneled wainscot, high dado-picture rail and a coved ceiling. The ceiling was ornamented in stencil work that depicted a trim with stylized botanical forms, fleur-de-lis in the cove, and a ceiling broken into panels with a Grecian olive-leaf border. The room had a fireplace with an elaborate marble surround and custom over-mantel with built-ins. The room was lit with Rococo-inspired wall sconces, each with three fabric shaded fixtures.

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A dining room table and chairs were also in the room. The trim, top edge, and feet on the sideboard match the dining room table and it appears as if the suite of furniture was a matching set. The overall design of the set, like the room, is eclectic in nature. The table and sideboard have claw-feet and some classical features and ornaments. The chairs in the room were Georgian revival.

Within the provenance record, there is a paragraph that has some conjecture about the origin of the sideboard, mentioning the possibility of it coming from one of several Rhode Island homes owned by the Hazard family. This does not seem plausible for several reasons.

The first problem with the provenance and tying the furniture to a Rhode Island origin is mobility. Fred lived in two homes prior to moving into Upland Farms and before that, he was a boarder at a couple local hotels. According to Syracuse City Directories, his residences were as follows: 1884 Boards at the Globe Hotel, 1885 Boards at Genesee & Filbert, 1886-1889 Belle Isle Rd., 1890-1892 Milton Ave., and 1893 Upland Farm. It is possible that Hazard acquired furniture from move to move to move but it seems unlikely. It is more likely that only select pieces might have moved with him and others were left with previous homes, as was customary in that time.

The second problem with the provenance is the circumstances of the homes mentioned and Fred’s relation to them. The homes “Vaucluse” and “Holly House” are each mentioned.

Thomas Hazard, Fred’s uncle, lived at “Vaucluse”. Vaucluse was located in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, not at Newport as is stated in the provenance. There is no record of Fred ever living at Vaucluse. Thomas died, in 1888 and the estate would have passed to his sole surviving son, Barclay. Thomas’ papers survive and there is a lot of info on Vaucluse so this could be researched more but it seems unlikely that at that time furniture would have passed from uncle to nephew (Vaucluse to Upland Farm).

Rowland III, Fred’s brother, lived at “Holly House”. Holly House was built by Rowland III in 1892. It was designed by McKim Meade and White. Given the timing of construction, it seems impossible that any furniture would have been transferred from Holly House to Upland Farm.

Finally, Rowland II, Fred’s father, lived at “Oakwoods”, in Peace Dale. Oakwoods is not mentioned in the Provenance, though it seems to be the most likely place where furniture would be transported from as this was Fred’s childhood home. Since Rowland II lived into the early 20th century, it seems odd that Fred would have brought furniture with him from his father’s home, because he was still alive at the time.

Given the similarity of wood species that appears to be used throughout the rest of the dining room and the eclectic nature of the furniture and how well it seems to relate to the home. I think that it is more likely that the furniture was either designed specifically for the room in which it rested or it was selected and purchased for that purpose. Ultimately, it seems possible that the sideboard was manufactured in Syracuse and even designed by the home’s architect, J. L. Silsbee. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough information about Silsbee’s practice at the time or the design work he did for the Hazards to know for certain.

It graced the dining room at “Upland Farm,” and thereafter was moved to Mr. Martin Knapp’s home, “Old Trees,” in Cazenovia. The sideboard was given to the Century Club by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Knapp. Mr. Knapp was the son of Martin H. Knapp. In 1974 the Century Club donated the sideboard to Onondaga Historical Association, where it is now being used in the Gambrinus Gallery to house beer memorabilia.

Christopher Payne, Architect