Laurel craftsman repairs desk, touches history

  • Jim McCullough, a Laurel native who moved his furniture repair and restoration business to Laurel recently, was asked to repair the desk used by Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.
Jim McCullough, a Laurel native who moved his furniture repair… (Photo by Nate Pesce, Patuxent…)
December 02, 2013|By Amy Armstrong

Furniture craftsman Jim McCullough has worked on very large and prestigious projects, such as several pieces in the White House, the desk of the founder of Bowie, Odgen Bowie; touched up and refinished furniture at the Taylor House in Washington; and refinished 200 chairs for Dempsey's Brew Pub at Camden Yards in Baltimore, creating connections with each project.

Last year, Denman McCoy, from the Department of Justice, where McCullough had done work on and off for 10 years, called and asked him to repair and restore the desk of Thurgood Marshall, the first African American justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Marshall, who was born in Baltimore, is best known for his high success rate in arguing before the Supreme Court and for his victory in Brown vs. Board of Education, before becoming a judge.

Marshall's 84 by 84-inch desk was worn and torn because he had used it over such a long time period, October 1967 until October 1991. Because the desk had been used for many years, McCullough had to use mahogany paint, a paint that takes more than five days to dry; redo the trim that was stained and damaged; and eventually resize the desk. McCullough said the significant amount of damage took 36 hours of cutting and sanding to repair.

The desk has been fully repaired but McCullough has to customize the height and weight for yet another person in the Department of Justice: Associate Attorney General Tony West will be using Marshall's desk but, because of his height, McCullough has to raise and modify the desk still more.

McCullough grew up in Laurel but left to pursue a career in the business world of repairing, refinish and restoring furniture.

After 40 years of working for local companies, including Chem Clean Restorations in Laurel, Furniture Medic in Rockville and Joseph's Refinishing in Columbia, he decided two years ago to branch off and start his own business, McCullough Furniture Services.

He started out in Frederick but last year moved his business to a shop off Whiskey Bottom Road.

McCullough said he has connections in his hometown to help out with his business, including people to do pick ups and deliveries for him so he can focus on perfecting his work.

"It's a lot closer to home and it's centrally located," McCullough said of his North Laurel shop. "I don't have to travel 40 minutes to do pickups and deliveries."

Although McCullough had done most of the work on the desk by himself, his two sons gave him an extra hand in the process. One of McCullough's sons, Brian, works in the shop with him and has contributed to some of the projects in the past. His other son is in Florida training to follow in his father's footsteps.

"I hope my sons will continue the service of my shop after I retire," McCullough said.

Amy Armstrong is a Laurel Leader student intern.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.