Helping communities across the state connect their heritage arts and traditions to local development, education, and active citizenship
Halifax, Halifax County, NC
For many years, Halifax County native Ellis Vaughan and his wife Margaret were proprietors of the antique shop Treasures and Trash in Weldon. During their years in the business and their many antique-hunting sojourns, they gained a deep knowledge of old forms of furniture.
Vaughan had a longtime interest in building with wood, dating to his high school days in the late 1930s when he attended shop class. He remembers his excitement at the new-found skills: “I thought I could build near-about anything I wanted now. And I could.” In addition to skills, he had talent, and years later he would build very fine reproductions of antique furniture. He also made punched-tin panels for cabinets, and though he no longer does woodworking, he recalls how much he loved working with a lathe.
One day, Margaret Vaughan came home from the shop with an old chair that needed its seat replaced. She intended to learn how to weave a seat herself, but instead it was Ellis who went to the library and found a book on the craft. He became a skilled chair seat weaver, working with laced cane, rush, rope, and other traditional materials. About the now-rare art, he says, “I feel that I’m performing a service that is no longer available in a whole lot of places.”
Today, in his late 80s, he stays busy. He weaves chair seats for antique dealers in North Carolina and Virginia, and individual customers come to him from as far as 50 miles away to have their prized antique chairs bottomed. “I appreciate the people having the confidence in me to let me do it,” he says.
Over the years, when not working with antique furniture, Ellis Vaughan has found time to minister to the ill in nursing homes, teach Sunday school, and serve as Mayor of Halifax. He is a recipient of the Order of the Longleaf Pine Award.