A local African-American entrepreneur from the early 1800s is gaining widespread recognition for his unique furniture and indoor woodworking, a notable accomplishment during Black History Month. Several of his works are on display at Oak Grove Plantation.
From 1820 to 1860, this businessman, Thomas Day, had dozens of workers, both white and black (including his own slaves), handcraft and later machine-craft architectural elements and furniture. He became the largest furniture manufacturer in North Carolina with his uniquely designed beds, wardrobes, chairs, cabinets and mantels.
More than 150 years later, the talented free black man is finally gaining recognition from the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum of History in Raleigh, N.C., his hometown of Milton, N.C., and the region’s tourist industry. All have displayed and promoted this craftsman’s handiwork.
Collectors and museums, are discovering and buying his works at auctions. The Halifax County Historical Society, in South Boston, is identifying about 20 houses with Day’s works. His handiwork will be featured in an upcoming issue of American Furniture magazine.