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"Szafa made by John Borutski for his daughter, Veronica"
Article written for the Fall/Winter 2003 Newsletter
by Shirley Mask Connolly

This beautiful cupboard (szafa) which is now on display at theJohn & Josephine Borutski Polish Kashub Heritage Museum in Wilno* had been in the possession of antique collectors and restorers, Dennis and Lorna Peterson for the past twenty-five years. Although they were unsure of the exact origins of the cupboard which they purchased from another collector, they were told that it came from the Andrecheck family.

Dennis Peterson, who is a skilled woodworker, describes the cupboard as  "built of brown ash (also known as black ash and swamp ash) which was commonly used by Polish and German cabinetmakers because of its attractive grain and because it was pleasant to work with, unlike oak. Most ash pieces were not painted, but varnished to show the beauty of the grain. Furniture made of pine was mostly painted , but not always. The secondary wood used in this cupboard ie. top, back boards, drawer sides & shelves  is basswood. The frames of the doors are made with 'through' tenons going right through the stiles and tightened with 2 wedges at the ends of each tenon to expand the tenon so as to hold its position forever. The panels in the doors and sides are chamfered on the inside. Sometimes the chamfer is facing to the outside and is referred to as a 'blown panel'."

Szafa by John Borutski

It is about twenty years since I first saw the cupboard at the Peterson's, and when they told me about the Andrecheck connection,  I wondered if it might have come from the home of my great-uncle, Angus Andrecheck. I also knew that the Andrechecks were not cabinetmakers, but that they had a neighbour, John Borutski,  who was. John Borutski's granddaughter, Frances Pecoskie, married Angus Andrecheck, twelve years after her grandfather died in 1910, but I suspected that this cupboard might have been built for John Borutski's daughter, Veronica. Veronica Borutski  married Frank Pecoski/Piechowski and their only child was Frances Andrecheck nee Pecoskie. Although I felt that this might explain the Andrecheck connection to the cabinet, my theory was unsubstantiated until

Frances's daughter, Rita Cybulskie, visited the museum this past May Day [2003] and positively identified the cupboard as coming from their family home.

An almost identical cupboard, was made for John Borutski's own home. The cupboard displayed in the Wilno Heritage Museum is stripped of its original dark varnish and has been modified  to remove the wooden clothes pegs and insert a shelf and pole for hangers.

*Thanks to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for funding provided for the acquisition of the Borutski cupboard and several other pieces of Wilno Furniture for the Polish Kashub Museum, Wilno.

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