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The Day Lounge:
Interview with Pat Marshall

By Fred Wasser
(April 7, 2010)

 

Pat Marshall (May 26, 1958-September 4, 2010) was curator of furnishings and decorative arts at the North Carolina Museum of History, Raleigh, and co-author (with Jo Leimenstoll) of Thomas Day: Master Craftsman and Free Man of Color (The University of North Carolina Press, 2010).

 

The Day Lounge

Thomas Day Collection: North Carolina Museum of History
Photo: Eric N. Blevins and D.Kent Thompson

 

Is that a Day lounge?  I’m very interested in this. You write in your book that the Day lounge is the form that “most people today associate with Thomas Day” and “the one furniture form with a design unique to Day’s shop.”
Yes, his lounge form is a signature piece. A lot of people would look at this and say, “Oh, that’s a sofa.” In Day’s terminology that we find on his bills of sale, he calls this a “lounge.” It’s unique to Day in that he takes a very large piece of furniture and gives it an air of lightness.

Where would this be in a house?
This would have been in the parlor. It was considered a very elegant piece of furniture. There’s a design cut out in the back. At each end you have elegant curved scrolled pillars that rise up. And instead of upholstering the arm, he puts an armrest at the top that’s usually round. And underneath it he ties it together with a rail that is cut with serpentine curves. And what he does is then mirrors those serpentine curves, on the base of the seat.

It doesn’t look comfortable the way a sofa would. It doesn’t seem inviting to me. What was the purpose of the Day lounge?
If you were receiving guests you could have up to three or four people sit on this. And the back isn’t upholstered. It’s a straight back. But then you have to remember that at this point in time a lot of the women that are going to be sitting on this, they’re strapped in corsets that are forcing them to sit up straight. So it’s not something you lounge on. You sit on the lounge. But your posture is such that I don’t think it really matters that you don’t have an upholstered back on it. The seat itself is comfortable.

It looks hard and uncomfortable.
No, it’s not! It has upholstered springs in it. It’s stuffed full of horse hair and other materials that they used back then. It’s comfy.

 

 

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