Irving and Casson - A. H. Davenport -- Collection II
This collection documents the work of A. H. Davenport Co. (1880-1914), Irving and Casson (1884-1914), and their successor, Irving and Casson - A. H. Davenport Co. (1914-1973); the bulk of the material dates from 1900 to 1945. The collection includes design drawings, sketches, photographs, clippings, scrapbooks, and ephemera documenting the work of and compiled by the firms. Also included are photographs, scrapbooks, books, and trade catalogs that formed part of their design resource library. See series descriptions for details.
Acquiring and processing the collection, and making the finding aid accessible online were made possible through the generosity of an anonymous foundation and Mr. and Mrs. David A. Martland, along with support from Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Schorsch and other anonymous individuals.
- Collection Name
- Irving and Casson - A. H. Davenport -- Collection II
- Collection Code
- 1880-1973, undated
- This collection documents the work of A. H. Davenport Co., Irving and Casson, and their successor Irving and Casson - A. H. Davenport Co. A. H. Davenport Co. was one of the country's most successful all-purpose interior design firms and furniture manufacturers in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Irving and Casson was a firm specializing in interior woodwork and church furnishings. The two firms merged in 1914, remained a dominant force in the industry for several decades, and closed around 1973.
- Date of Acquisition
- Physical Description
21 boxes; ca. 27 linear feet
- Finding Aid Info
An electronic finding aid is available through Historic New England's Collections Access Portal. A paper finding aid is available in the Library and Archives.
- Collection Type
- Corporate Records
- Description Level
- Custodial History
The collection was created by Historic New England through multiple acquisitions (both gifts and purchases) of individual items or small groups of items over the course of years.
- Reference Code
Albert H. Davenport (1845-1906) was born in Malden, Massachusetts, and went to work as a bookkeeper for the Boston furniture maker Ezra H. Brabrook in 1866. Upon Brabrook's death in 1880, Davenport purchased the company for $139,000 and changed the name to A. H. Davenport Co. Davenport's business acumen and the artistic talent of his chief designer Francis H. Bacon (1856-1940) helped to turn the firm into one of the country's most successful all-purpose design firms. From its showrooms in Boston and New York, the firm served business magnates including Henry Clay Frick, F. W. Woolworth, Cornelius Vanderbilt III, and George Eastman as well as middle-class clients. Architects such H. H. Richardson; McKim, Mead, and White; Peabody and Stearns; and Little and Brown hired the firm to execute many of their designs. Notable commissions included 225 pieces of furniture for the Iolani Place in Honolulu, Hawaii, as well as work for the 1902 White House renovation.
The partnership of carpenters Charles R. Irving (1842-1925) and Robert Casson (1848-1931) started in 1874. Beginning with the production of wood mantels and interior finishes, their firm expanded to include furniture among its product offerings. Like Davenport, Irving and Casson worked with well-known architects such as Ralph Adams Cram and began to supply these architects with furnishings with a particular expertise in Gothic Revival church interiors. Taking advantage of their natural business synergies and adjacent factories in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the two firms merged in 1914 to create Irving and Casson - A. H. Davenport Co.
Starting with A. H. Davenport Co. and continuing after the merger, the firm built an extensive reference library containing American and European books on decorative arts as well as scrapbooks containing thousands of pages filled with clippings and photographs. The company also organized its original design drawings in albums by furniture type. Additionally, the firm created more than 200 photograph albums to document its output.
The firm's business began to decline in the mid-twentieth century and its last major commission was interior work on the United Nations headquarters in New York. Irving and Casson - A. H. Davenport Co. ceased operations around 1973.
Condon, L. (2014, Fall). "Their works will follow them": Building the Irving and Casson - A. H. Davenport archive. Historic New England, 15 (2), 22-25.
Material in other collections
A. H. Davenport Co. Design drawings. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA.
A. H. Davenport Co. Drawings. http://cprhw.tt/p/2AwgV. Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, New York, NY.
A. H. Davenport Co. Drawings, ca.1890-1901 (Col. 154); Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library, Winterthur, DE.
Irving and Casson. Furniture designs, ca. 1908-1925 (Col. 752). Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library, Winterthur, DE.
Irving & Casson - A. H. Davenport Co. records, 1875-1974. Smithsonian Archives of American Art, Washington, DC.
This collection was created through multiple acquisitions and has no original order. The collection is arranged in eleven series in chronological order of acquisition as follows:
Series I. CC011.001: 1994 Acquisitions;
Series II. CC011.002: 1995 Acquisitions - 1 of 3;
Series III. CC011.003: 1995 Acquisitions - 2 of 3;
Series IV. CC011.004: 1995 Acquisitions - 3 of 3;
Series V. CC011.005: 1996 Acquisitions - 1 of 2;
Series VI. CC011.006: 1996 Acquisitions - 2 of 2;
Series VII. CC011.007: 1999 Acquisitions - 1 of 2;
Series VIII. CC011.008: 1999 Acquisitions - 2 of 2;
Series IXI. CC011.009: 2011 Acquisitions;
Series X. CC011.010: 2013 Acquisitions; and
Series XI. CC011.011: 2014 Acquisitions.
A. H. Davenport Co. (American furniture manufactory, active late 19th-early 20th centuries)
Irving & Casson
Possibly Irving & Casson - A. H. Davenport Co.
- Material Type
clippings (information artifacts)
This collection is available for research. Delicate materials may be restricted due to their condition. There are no technical restrictions on this collection.
- Related Items
Irving & Casson - A. H. Davenport -- Collection I — CC010 contains items relating to A. H. Davenport Co., Irving and Casson, and their successor Irving & Casson - A. H. Davenport Co that were acquired from The Strong Museum.
- Accruals Note
Accruals are expected.
- Appraisal, Destruction and Scheduling Note
No materials have been removed from this collection.
- Conservation Note
No conservation and preservation activities have been completed on this collection.
- Language Note
Items are predominantly in English; however, one book and one trade catalog are in French.
- Preferred Citation
Item identification. Box #, folder #. Irving and Casson - A. H. Davenport Collection II (CC011). Historic New England, Library & Archives.
- Processing Information
This collection was processed by Project Archivist Lynne Paschetag.
- Rules and Conventions
This finding aid is DACS-compliant.
Use the links below to browse up and down the collection hierarchy from the current record.
- Irving and Casson - A. H. Davenport -- Collection II (current record)