Ernst F. Gehlmann, Springfield, Illinois 
Renaissance Revival Style Secretary, circa 1865
walnut, 118 by 76 by 26.5 inches 
Made for Wellington B. Huffaker in New Berlin, Illinois 
Gift of the James C. Huffaker family, Carson City, Nevada (745072) 

Renaissance Revival
The elements borrowed from the architecture and furniture of the renaissance include columns, capitals, pediments, moldings, bosses, and finials. Other Renaissance style features of this secretary are a dentil molding, flaming torch finials, and prismatic ornaments. Each side of the desk has a wood panel with stiles and rails framing it.

A secretary is a desk with two parts. The bottom part is a desk with a writing top and drawers. The top part is a section of book shelves, often with glass doors, that sits on top of the desk.

Ernest Gehlmann made this secretary very large to fit into a grand new house he had built for the Wellington Huffaker family. Because the secretary is almost ten feet tall, we can guess that the rooms probably had twelve-foot ceilings.

This secretary is made of walnut wood from the Huffaker farm. Walnut was a wood often used for furniture in nineteenth-century Illinois. Furniture makers liked walnut because of its warm color, smooth grain, and attractive burl grain, which could be used for veneer or focal points, such as panels. Furniture makers often used walnut in early Renaissance Revival style furniture.