Thursday, January 31, 2008
In my daily search for news relating to Honest Abe, I came across this article in today's The Sentinel (Carlisle, Pennsylvania) about the restoration and conservation of the carriage which carried Lincoln to his fate at Ford's Theater on April 14, 1865.
This carriage, housed in the collection of The National Studebaker Museum in South Bend, Indiana, was acquired by the Studebaker family in 1889 from its second owner, who had purchased it from Robert Lincoln, the president's oldest son, after the assassination.
The news story tells how the conservator, Brian Howard, got into his business and how he's become a leading expert in his field. The restoration was completed only yesterday, January 30, 2008 after months of work. According to Mr. Howard, he doesn't want the public to see his work on it; he wants viewers to see the carriage as Lincoln himself did.
The carriage was originally acquired by Lincoln at his second inauguration in 1864. It was said to be the president's favorite vehicle. Interestingly, the carriage has steps which are connected to its door, so when the door is opened, the steps come down automatically. Likewise, the steps are raised when the door is closed.
When the carriage arrived in Carlisle, it was in a fairly sorry condition. The leather on the fenders and seats had severely deteriorated, there were cracks in the wood, hinges coming loose, etc. Thanks to an email tip, the team even discovered that the carriage had Lincoln's monogram "AL" on the sides. Through careful examination and tedious work, the conservators restored the monogram. Other work included repairing splits in the seats, filling in paint which had flecked away from the wood, and stabilized the door hinges.
The carriage is now back on its way to the Studebaker Museum and will be put back on display soon.
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 2:06 PM