April 26, 2013

Chairs worthy of five presidents

Thos. Moser, the Maine producer of high-end furniture, built the seating used at the Bush library dedication.

By Eric Russell erussell@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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Aaron Moser sits Thursday in a Harpswell chair, one of the Thos. Moser company’s signature designs, at its headquarters in Auburn. He didn’t learn until Wednesday that Harpswell chairs would be on the stage at Thursday’s dedication of the George W. Bush library.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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Cabinetmakers assemble chairs Thursday at the Thos. Moser facility in Auburn. Founded four decades ago by Bates College professor Thomas Moser, the company has built furniture for libraries and corporate boardrooms across the United States.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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"I think the family's connection to Maine played a role, too," Moser said. Former President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara, own a home in Kennebunkport.

Moser said the company's philosophy is simple. The mission of its 130 employees, half of whom are woodworkers, is to craft furniture that is sturdy enough to last for many years but also elegant enough never to go out of style.

The Harpswell chair can be made with or without armrests and with or without back padding. Each chair has a back crest that is carved from one piece of cherry, and the grain pattern for each is unique. Each piece of furniture is signed and dated by the woodworker.

The furniture isn't for everyone, at least from a budget standpoint. The Harpswell chairs on which the five current and former presidents sat Thursday start at about $1,200.

Tuttle said the high price allows Thos. Moser to market to clients who can afford to spend $1,200 on one chair.

Asked if the company's furniture makers felt any extra pressure knowing that their pieces were destined for such a prestigious location, Moser said he didn't think so.

"Honestly, our customers are all very important," he said. "We treat each piece as though it's going to live forever, whether it's going to a library at a major university or if it's going to someone's home."

The hardest part, Moser said, was not revealing that the company had been commissioned to produce so many pieces for the facility. His employees have known for more than two years that their furniture would be placed at the presidential library, one of only 13 in the country.

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:


Twitter: @PPHEricRussell


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Courtesy Thos. Moser


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