The Legacy of Thomas Day

During the mid-1800s, Thomas Day was the most successful cabinet maker working  in North Carolina.  A significant figure in the history of woodworking, equally as important for his role in American history as an astoundingly successful free man of color in the Antebellum South, Day developed a truly original aesthetic and showed unmatched skill as a maker of cabinets, furniture, and other highly detailed works, the popularity of which elevated his status in white society on a scale unseen among other free blacks.  His signature style, full of flowing lines, spirals, and original motifs, shaped an entire era of American furniture making.

In honor of the publication of THOMAS DAY: MASTER CRAFTSMAN AND FREE MAN OF COLOR, the North Carolina Museum of History will open its exhibit “Beneath the Veneer: Thomas Day Cabinet Maker” on May 22nd, the day of the book’s release.  The following day, the Thomas Day House, located in historic Milton, NC will host a book signing event, where “visitors will also have a chance to see examples of Day’s fine craftsmanship at Union Tavern, Milton Presbyterian Church, and other locations.”

Authors Patricia Marshall, curator of decorative arts for the North Carolina Executive Mansion and the North Carolina Museum of History,  and  Jo Ramsay Leimenstoll, professor of interior architecture at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, have brought Day’s legacy to its rightful place in North Carolina and American history with their detailed and thoughtful approach to one of our state’s most valuable treasures.

In conjunction with its Thomas Day exhibit, the Museum of History will host a panel on turning points in North Carolina African American history.   The panel will feature UNC Press authors Tim Tyson and Blair LM Kelley.

-Rachel