The life of a 200 year-old desk: The Bacheller Desk at the Lynn Museum

The Lynn Museum received a cherished gift on October 22, 2010. Milton H. Bacheller, Jr., and his wife, Suzanne Bacheller, Plainville, MA brought not only a Federal period desk to the museum, but brought with it a bound history of the life of the desk starting from its hand-crafting in about 1800. The desk has a story to tell and fortunately for the Lynn Museum over 200 years come alive through the careful attention to the history by the Bacheller family.

The desk has been passed down through numerous generations of the Bacheller family, including Henry and Samuel. It was in the possession of Milton Bacheller, Sr., until his death in 1975. Since then it has been in the home of Milton Bacheller, Jr. In donating the desk, Bacheller stated, “The desk had resided in my home for almost 35 years. It’s time for a new home for it. Our wish is to have the legacy of the desk continue as part of the legacy of Lynn. The Lynn Museum was the best choice for it.”

The drop-front desk was made in 1800 by 23-year old Elijah Downing, a well-known cabinet-maker native to Lynn. The Downing family lived on North Common Street at the corner of Park. Fashioned in the Federal style, following closely on the heels of the American Revolution, there was an eagerness in furniture makers to define the styles of American goods as separate from those of England. The Federal period style illustrated a bold demonstration of artistry with finely proportioned features, intricate veneers and delicate inlays. Developing a style that was uniquely “American Empire” was a hallmark of Federal period furniture as seen in the desk at the Lynn Museum for all visitors to enjoy and learn its story.

The desk along with additional gifts of silver, portraiture, and a writing set given to the museum by the Bacheller’s are currently on view in the second floor galleries of the Lynn Museum and Historical Society, 590 Washington Street, Lynn 01901.The museum is open T-W and F-Sat: 12-4pm and Thursday 12-8pm.

For more information about the museum, the Bacheller desk or other objects in the collection, contact, Kate Luchini.

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