What’s old is new again

03.16.2016 - Conference & Retreat, Groups, Inn Renovation
Kanuga refurbishes original furniture from the
1900s for use in renovated Kanuga Lake Inn

There’s more than meets the eye with some of the furniture in the newly-renovated Kanuga Lake Inn, set to open in May. In fact, if the comfy chairs and sofas in the Common Rooms could talk, they would have a long-winded story to tell. They’ve been around for quite some time, all the way back to Kanuga’s beginning, in fact.

These beautiful pieces of Arts & Crafts style furniture are original to Kanuga, crafted in the early 1900s in a small furniture shop on Kanuga’s property. The shop’s energy came from hydroelectric power generated at the base of the Kanuga Lake dam—the lake was three times larger than it is now. The sturdy oak for the furniture came from timber felled on the property when the original Kanuga
Lake Inn was being built as part of the Kanuga Lake Club.

“Kanuga has beeStaffHeadshot_StanleyHubbard_2011_4151n ‘green’ from the beginning,” said Kanuga President Stan Hubbard. “We’re continuing that tradition with the renovation of the Inn and by reusing as much as we can. An excellent example of this commitment to the environment is the repurposing of the original Kanuga furniture.”

Hubbard and the Inn renovation planning committee decided to pull the original furniture from storage and give it a new life.

Decades earlier, however, the furniture nearly met its demise.  As the original Kanuga Lake Inn was being torn down and replaced in 1968, Kanuga staff member Sandy Lynch had the foresight to pull the original furniture out of the Inn and store it in a warehouse on the property. It had seen better days, but it was decided that the furniture was too valuable to be demolished.

The furniture had a hard life, in some instances having been placed outdoors on porches for years. After being pulled from the Kanuga Lake Inn in 1968, it sat in a warehouse for nearly 47 years. As Director or Property Ricky Varnadore took an inventory of the furniture before the renovations began in 2015, it was decided that hope was not lost, although it would be important to find the right company to repair and refinish the furniture so it could be enjoyed by Kanuga guests again.

Fortunately, a valuable connection was made between Kanuga and a well-respected furniture maker in High Point, North Carolina, thanks to the thoughtfulness of Kanuga Board of Trustee member The Rev. David Umphlett, also of High Point. Umphlett serves as Rector of St. Mary’s Church and knew of Kanuga’s goal to restore the cherished furniture. He thought of parishioner Melanie McNamara, the owner of Absolute Style Furniture, a High Point-based furniture manufacturer. Introductions were made, a very fair price set and the vintage furniture was shipped to McNamara’s shop.

Today, missing legs are being manufactured, joints are being glued and secured, and the furniture is being stained and finished to match the newer furniture destined for Inn bedrooms and gathering spaces.

Beginning in May, guests can catch a glimpse of Kanuga’s storied past when they use a guest room desk chair or relax in the Common Rooms on a sofa or Morris chair flanking the fireplace.