The History of Vosburgh’s

Picture of Office The Family firm had its birth when Mike Vosburgh and his father in law, Ev Kennedy teamed up to open a small business refinishing old furniture and hand making new pieces.  That was in Southampton Ontario, but the pair quickly realized they needed a base of operations that offered a larger population and greater accessibility to major markets.  In 1950, they set up shop in a former historic carriage works on the corner of South and Cavan Streets in Port Hope.  They called their venture Kennedy Upholstering.  In time, they branched out into the selling of draperies and they opened a shop on Queen Street, still in Port Hope.  Only a short time later, with increasing demand, they opened a new store on Port Hope's main thorouhfare, Walton Street, retailing new factory made furniture, and all manner of home decorating needs, including draperies and blinds.  The store was known far and wide as Kennedy-Vosburgh.

By 1960, the business was doing so well, the partners built a new headquarters on Rose Glen Road, Port Hope, at the corner of Highway 2, Ontario's Heritage Highway, the former Kingston-York Road. Although Mike is now retired and his father-in law has passed away, the business carries on.  From the 8000 square foot Rose Glen Road showroom and workshop, Mike's son Brian and his wife, Elizabeth, now operate Vosburgh Furniture Refinishing and Upholstering.  It's still a family business, still creating special one-of-a-kind custom pieces, giving loving restorations to cherished antiques, and offering home decorating accessories including innovative and traditional window treatments, and even accents like throw pillows. Eight people, besides family members, are employed there and, conveniently under the same roof, are the workshops of Daniel Daigle Fine Woodworking and Dave VanderSchaaf of Dadon Carpentry. These related businesses help with some of the restoration and manufacturing that comes in to the Vosburghs',and, in turn, the Vosburghs are able to help with some of the jobs tht come into the other shops.

"We've come full circle, back into the manufacturing and remanufacturing service," says Brian Vosburgh, pointing to the fact that the family business once again sells only its own manufactured furniture, no mass-produced items.

Furniture comes in to Vosburgh in all states of repair and desrepair.  Sometimes it's a total restoration, where a piece needs structural work, refinishing on visible wood surfaces, regluing, reupholstering and even some replacement of pieces: arms, legs, trim, depending on the item.  On those pieces, the challenge is to retore them to their intended beauty, colour matching an finishing all surfaces.  Some jobs are small; like chair rungs to be reglued.  "We get hundreds and hundreds every week," says Brian Vosburgh.  And, some unusual requests come in.

"Recently we did a 1960s Gibson bass guitar," says Mr. Vosburgh, adding that, like a piece of furniture, "It's all wood." 

The largest jobs the company handles are restorations of entire home contents, perhaps after a fire has caused smoke and other damage.  Often these are cherished antiques which must be carefully restored, hand-tied springs and all and recovered with appropriate fabrics and patterns.  Another recent large job for the firm was the refinishing of over 1,000 kitchen cabinets from a company that is retrofitting an apartment building in Oshawa

Vosburgh Furniture Refinishing and Upholstering has regular clients from Toronto to Kingston.  They are finding they have "more and more" clients in Port Hope and area, with many heritage homes being restored and "so much new building" in the area.

 In addition to the furniture building and rebuilding the firm also has "thousands and thousands" of fabrics to choose from for upholstery, accents and draperies, as well as other window treatments including the latest in blinds and shutters.

As well as offering their own restoration services, they help their customers care for their fine woods and do some refinishing projects on their own.  They manufacture and sell Rosinize Furniture Polish and we distributers for wood coatings, stains, sealers and solvents made by Chemcraft International, another Port Hope based company.

The customers and employees of the past have enabled the business to survive and grow, Mr Vosburgh acknowledges, adding that he hopes to meet new customers and make new friends during the company's second 50 years.

This was published in Port Hope Open for Business in November 1999