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Family business restores national treasure
Laplata man saves President Herbert Hoovers desk
As Seen in the Maryland Independent Newspaper
By Suzanne White
Independent Staff Writer
Larry Manoly stepped out of high school and into a family business that would eventually put him in touch with a national tresure.
Manoly, owner of Manoly Furniture Service restores antiques and other furniture for residential customers and a list of commercial entities which include the U.S. goverment.
The goverment, Manoly said, is careful with its money and prefers to recycle its old desk in its custody rather then spend money to purchase new ones.
So, Manoly was not surprised when he recieved a call to refurbish and repair a mammoth desk that was about to be removed from storage in a Washington,D.C. warehouse.
But the desk was different, it was used by Herbert Hoover, who was our 31st president of the United States from 1929 to 1933.
For years, the immense old desk had sat in the branch chief's office at the Department of commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis office on K Street, N.W.
When the bureau moved to L Street, N.W., in1993, the desk was placed in storage until commererce's undersecretary for economic affairs requested it be removed from storage, redone and placed in his office.
For Manoly, the desk, with its 20 drawers,-10 on each side- was a challenge. Exstensive work was needed to restore the piece to its original condition, and twice as many men were needed to hoist the desk into a truck that would transport it to Manolys workshop.
It was probably one of the largest desk we have done because it was so massive, said Manoly. :Four of us had to load it. Usually, it takes two guys and a dolly to load just about anything."
At Manoly's workshop, the desk was disassembled before it was stripped, treated and restored in a deep mahogany custom-matched stain reminiscent of its original finish. Brass locks and pulls were replaced by hardware that reflected the era.
But, Manoly said, despite the beautification of the desk, it had to be functional. None of the locks worked, and the runners for the multiple drawers were worn, which caused them to shake when pulled in and out.
The repairs were made in addition to restoring the old desk that served President Hoover. A month and a half after Manoly picked up the desk the job was done.
The desk's new occupant at the Commerce Department was delighted with the transformation, and a letter of Appreciation was sent to Manoly thanking him for his fine craftmanship and "attention above and beyond the normal restoration."
Above, Larry Manoly sits at the table he restored in Alexander Graham Bell's home in Wash. D.C
While the Hoover desk was Manoly's most historical restoration assignment, he has done work for other well-known political figures such as former Secretary of Commerce Ronald Brown, who was killed in a plane crash, and James Baker Chief of Saff and Secretary of the Treasury under President Regan.
Manoly's customers also include sports professionals with the Redskins and the Capitals, high profile law firms in Washington,D.C., that want their office furniture maintained, moving companies and residential customers who would like a family heirloom restored to be passed down to the next generation.
"When I got out of school in 1971, the business was there for me," Manoly said. Manoly's grandfather, Nicholas, who started the business, was a bedmaker in Austria before coming to New York.
His father, Larry Sr., eventually took over the business with an uncle before Manoly became the president.
"It's rewarding to take a piece of furniture and restore it," said Manoly. Manoly maintains a web site with pictures. "You cannot explain to a person what it is going to look like until they actually see it.