Riverside business restores critical pieces for museum exhibit

Riverside business restores critical pieces for museum exhibit
William Nash and his father Bill take a break during the delivery of a carefully restored wine cabinet. The ornate piece had portions carved by local antique specialist, Olivier Flaire, of Riverside. The Nashes delivered several pieces of the collection to the Lightner Museum Sept. 29, prior to the opening of the Downtown Abbey exhibit.

Lightner Museum will host Downton Abbey

An exciting new display at the Lightner Museum in St. Augustine will include Victorian Era furniture lovingly restored by a local family business.

E.W. Nash & Son, of Riverside, moved Italian, American and French restored antiques to the Lightner Museum the end of September just in time for an exhibit of Downton Abbey fashions.

William Nash works on the leg of a wood inlay table.

“We had to take it in loads,” said William Nash IV, professional restorer and managing partner of E.W. Nash & Son. “They’ll serve as a backdrop for the Downton Abbey pieces.”
“We worked for months,” he said, particularly on three pieces for a long time. An effort, they thought, at one point Hurricane Irma would thoroughly destroy.

“We had to make sure to save customers’ and the Downton Abbey collections,” said Nash. “We just had to start putting stuff up high. It was scary.”

Opening for view this October, the Lightner Museum will feature the “Dressing Downton, Changing Fashions for Changing Times” exhibit displaying “36 costumes and accessories, vignettes,” in addition to its other collections, according to the museum website.

One of the three main antiques, a large Italian wine cabinet, needed a lot of restoration, Nash said. Adorned with an array of intricate carvings, the dry bar object also held a strange surprise.

“It had a mysterious signature on it,” said Nash.

William Nash carefully puts a protective coat on a Victorian-era bench.

Other items the conservation partners supplied for the upcoming event include a 19th-century French “turtle top” table and a Greek-revival New York buffet cabinet, also specific to the same era as the pieces featured in the fall exhibit.

Nash said their work doesn’t end with the Lightner effort. In concert with their recent contributions, the father and son perform restorations for other museums and private collections, as well. As associate members of the American Institute for Conservation of Artistic Works (AIC), they’ve had a long-standing relationship with Jacksonville that has spanned decades.

“You can’t rush this stuff,” Nash said. “We even took two years restoring every furnishing for the Ximenez-Fatio House. It was 150 pieces.”

E.W. Nash cleans the base of a small bench.

Located in St. Augustine, the Ximenez-Fatio House museum is listed among the National Register of Historic Places. It originally started as an 18th-century coquina-stone merchant home, later became a boarding house, and currently stands as “one of the best preserved of the three dozen colonial buildings remaining in St. Augustine,” according to both the Ximenez-Fatio and American Heritage websites.

The Lightner Museum also has a rich cultural history. Built in 1888 by Henry Flagler, it is listed among the National Register of Historic Places. Named among U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Things to Do in St. Augustine,” the former hotel houses an array of collections, antiques, and fine art.

Lightner’s Downton Abbey exhibit is scheduled to run from October 4, 2017 to January 7, 2018.

By Lea Leonard
Resident Community News

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