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Crafting a Room That's a View
by Gina Gallucci-White + photos by Chris Jackson
The Master's Woodshop designs and creates timeless works of art to finish a home with style.
Walking through the machine shop to the millwork room, the rich smell of cherry wood is arresting, as are the bulky machines no layman should try to explain the inner workings or functions of. Stacked on looming shelves just below the oversized filtration duct is lumber that will be miraculously transformed into classic cabinets, molding, furniture, and paneling. Here, tucked away on a back road in Hagerstown is where the 21 employees of The Master’s Woodshop materialize remarkable concepts for their clients.
From Humble Beginnings
When Eben L. Conner III got out of high school in 1972, he took a job at a cabinet shop making $2 an hour. He had never done woodworking before and learned on the job. “I discovered that I liked it for one thing — and I was good at it,” he recalls. Thirteen years after Eben started working with wood, he found himself employed by the Reisner pipe organ supply company — until the owners closed the business. Luckily there were some outstanding consultations jobs that were under contract when regular operations ceased, and Eben took them on and commenced to build organ consoles out at Maugansville Lumber.
Those final jobs he did for Reisner triggered something inside Eben. He decided to rent out a space he could make his own, and there in 1985 is where Master’s Workshop was born. Naturally, honing a craft like this that appeals to a discerning clientele doesn’t happen over night. “You start at the bottom and work your way up,” Eben says from behind his long salt and pepper beard. “It’s rewarding to have learned all of this stuff and to be able to produce it.
This company, now 40-plus years in the making when factoring in all the time Eben spent learning and training, has attracted the interest of some very high-profile clients. They’ve completed multiple jobs for former first lady Hillary Clinton — at her D.C. and New York homes — as well as some absolutely stunning work in the Virginia home of former General Motors CEO Dan Akerson, which included a walnut library that would fit right in at Hearst Castle.
Aside from the library, Eben, and designers Tim Whittington and Jacob Wysopal also sketched out plans for carved mantles, dining room cabinetry, a bar, and the molding. “That was a fun house to work on. We were given a lot of freedom and were able to do a lot of the design work on the job,” says Eben. Pretty quickly into the project the team was given carte blanche to basically do what they wanted, which Eben confides made the job so much easier than it could have been.
“Often times, we are building what architects have conceptualized and sometimes have drawn in detail. We often add our own detail to that, or a homeowner or contractor will contact us with an idea of what they want and we will take over the design ourselves,” says Eben.
Come Great Things
After a couple decades of providing custom woodworked doors, mantles, and the like, an opportunity arose. Local manufacturer Statton Furniture was closing its operation after more than 80 years of producing beautiful classic and Georgian-styled furniture. Eben inquired about buying the rights to carry on the company’s popular legacy. Once the agreement was made, he bought the furniture patterns and the machines necessary to carry them out — and having already brought on board several employees from Statton years before, it was a natural fit.
Tim Whittington, who serves as a Master’s furniture designer, grew up at Statton as his father was a plant manager for 45 years. Tim also worked there for years. “Statton was all I knew,” he says. Tim says he was excited when he learned the line would be coming to Master’s where he has worked for more than a decade. The high-end design and craftsmanship maintain the same pedigree that Master’s has always upheld. This is the kind of furniture that gets passed down from generation to generation. “You buy a Statton bed, you’re not going to need to ever buy another bed again,” says Tim.
Currently, they maintain the Statton brand as a made-to-order online enterprise. It’s not sold in any stores — though there is the possibility of adding a showroom down the line. This has resulted in a largely word-of-mouth-oriented customer base. That being said, customer whispers have been reaching far and wide. They recently shipped conference tables all the way to Belgium.
Back To Basics
Depending on the scope of the project and completion of an idea, a job can take an average three to four months to complete, and furniture is turned around even quicker. Of course there are some outliers like Dan Akerson’s home, which was a yearlong project. To get a true idea as to why it could take that long, take a look at the pictures online of the completed projects. The company’s website is chock-full of pictures of their completed works.
The Master’s Woodshop
743 Bowman Ave,
Hagerstown, MD 21740
P.O. Box 3768
Hagerstown, MD 21742