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W.R. Davies office chair

W.R. Davies Office Chair

Timothy J. Hirsch, professor emeritus of English, presented the original office chair used by President W.R. Davies to the University Centers in 2012. The chair was used by Davies during most of his tenure (1941–1959). Manufactured by the Sikes Company of Buffalo, New York, sometime after 1933, the Craftsman-style swivel chair with its original leather cushions and casters is permanently displayed in the Alumni Room, Davies Center 350.

W.R. Davies office chair

Recording the chair's provenance, Hirsch wrote that President Davies' health deteriorated during his last two years, and he experienced back pain. According to Gerry Wing, secretary to the university for many years, Davies requested and received a new desk chair with a higher back. His office chair was placed in storage.

The original school library was on the west side of the second floor of Schofield Hall. When construction of the McIntyre Library building began, the former library was remodeled into a large lecture hall with platform risers extending upward from the front on the north, to the highest level on the south. The space under the highest riser on the south became a storage area with a small door that eventually was painted shut. The Davies office chair was put into that space in 1958, and forgotten.

In 1969, the risers in the former library were removed to create a large space for choir rehearsals. An assortment of abandoned stuff was found in the storage area, and it was placed in the hall for removal to a dumpster. 

The offices of the English department were immediately adjacent to the former library. James Olson, professor of English, and other members of the department inspected the materials that had come out of the storage area — a box of rock specimens, a partial human skeleton, boxes of photos, small bookcases in need of repair, a staved in globe, and the Davies chair. Gerry Wing, whose office was downstairs, came up to see the materials that had been uncovered. She recognized the chair and identified it as the one W.R. Davies had used during most of his tenure as President.

Most of the material found in the storage space was discarded. Some items, like the photos, were sent to the library archives collection for examination. No one requested the chair, so James Olson began using it in his office. When the English department moved to Hibbard Hall, he took it with him. When he retired in 1988, he passed the chair on to another member of the English department, Tim Hirsch.

Hirsch used the chair in his Hibbard Hall office from 1988 until he retired in 2001. When he retired, he attempted to pass the chair on to another member of the English department and to other university offices, but there were no takers. The chair had never been inventoried as university property, so he took it home.

When the new Davies Center was completed, Hirsch contacted Christopher Buckley, assistant director of operations for the University Centers. Buckley accepted the chair on behalf of Davies Center on November 20, 2012.