Maine-made chairs, more at papal appearance

Sep 15, 2015
For the second time, Maine’s Thos. Moser has built custom pieces for a visiting pope. The handmade American furniture firm’s Catena, pictured, and Harpswell Chairs will be used during Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia the last weekend of September.

Philadelphia — Maine craftsmanship will be a part of the upcoming visit to Philadelphia by Pope Francis. World Meeting of Families has organized Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States this month, including a stop at Independence Hall Saturday, Sept. 26, where the Pope, and four Cardinals, will be seated in Thos. Moser Catena Arm Chairs with custom cushions.

The Pope also will stand behind Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address lectern, reinforced by bracing made at the Thos. Moser workshop, during his speech at the Hall. On Sunday, Sept. 27, Pope Francis will say goodbye from a Harpswell Arm Chair with Back during his departure ceremony at the airport.

The Catena Arm Chairs were chosen as seating for the Pope and Cardinals because they reflect the simplicity and colonial Windsor-style of the original chairs used at historic events at Independence Hall. The Catena Chair’s hand-shaped crest at each corner, along with a heart on the seat created by Thos. Moser craftsmen, resonate with WMOF’s 2015 theme of Love Is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive. In addition, with comfortable seats and wider flat arms, the Catena Chairs, made from black cherry harvested from forests in Pennsylvania, reflect American heritage and sustainability, while the custom, removable white and blue cushions resemble the American flag.

Thos. Moser’s President and Founder Tom Moser was asked in July to inspect the historic lectern, which resides in the Union League of Philadelphia, to ensure its stability and safety during the Pope’s talk. Due to the original lectern’s frail and top-heavy design, Moser built a replica lectern to test a simple steel and cherry wood brace that will be used to stabilize the Lincoln lectern during the Pope’s speech. This brace will buttress the original Pennsylvania black walnut stand with little to no contact, while providing a place for wiring, hands and a glass of water.

Thos. Moser also will provide a Harpswell Arm Chair with Back for Pope Francis’ departure ceremony. The White House previously commissioned Harpswell Chairs for a ceremony welcoming Pope Benedict in 2008. The Pope and President Bush sat in the chairs, which are now on display at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum where custom Thos. Moser benches, tables and desks also are installed. All former presidents and first ladies sat in Harpswell Chairs during the library’s grand opening in 2013.

“To be a small part of this historic occasion is a privilege for the entire Thos. Moser team,” said Moser.

Expected to draw more than one million people from around the globe, portions of this WMOF interfaith event will be televised worldwide. The Thos. Moser workshop is in Auburn; and there are six showrooms: Philadelphia; New York; Boston; Washington, D.C.; San Francisco; and, in Maine, Freeport. For more information, visit thosmoser.com.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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