The Birth of the Coat Tree

The Huston Coat Tree has been the single best selling piece of furniture at Huston & Company since Bill started his business. It has become the most recognizable piece in our collection. This fall, we anticipate the sale of the 1,000thcoat tree, which is already built and in stock in our showroom. To date we have sold 989. 

We think selling number 1,000 in our 25thyear would be quite a coup. 

When it was first commissioned by Carolyn Lackey of Chicago, in 1988, Bill instinctively designed the coat tree with a cast iron base. He knew cast iron was the best solution for a furniture item that is traditionally unreliable in its sole vocation; to stand up and hold heavy coats without tipping. 

He also knew that the Xenia Foundry in Ohio would be able to make the base for him. The Xenia Foundry is an iron foundry, owned and operated by generations of the Huston family. Bill’s brother, Bob, was the man in charge at the time, the third generation to own and operate the foundry (it is currently under the stewardship of Bob’s son). 

Bob recently dug up some old information on the coat tree and the collaboration between Huston & Company and Xenia Foundry. He came across this letter…

Letter from Bill Husto of Huston and Company to his brother Bob 1988.

We believe the drawing Bill refers to in the letter looked something like this, though Bill likely made another, similar sketch for Bob.

Original sketch of the Huston Coat Tree, 1988, by Huston and Company custom furniture.

After a few refinements, the final drawing was sent to the client for approval.

Huston and Company Coat Tree, handcrafted furniture, Kennebunkport, Maine

She approved, and the Huston Coat Tree was born. 

We have recently spoken with Carolyn Lackey, the original coat tree owner, and she still has her tree; still uses it daily, 25 years later.