This article was
published in the May, 1949 issue of the NOFA Bulletin.
Kervin R. Dunton"
Age 82 years, born on Isle of
Westport, Maine (1867). Started manufacturing of desks and
furniture as a boy. Became superintendent of the Derby Desk
Company prior to organization of the Doten-Dunton Desk Co. in
1902. He has devoted his lifetime to the office furniture
principal interests are his business and family (daughter
and two granddaughters). In addition, his hobbies have
always been hunting and fishing.
Every fall he spends many days
hunting and has been known to tire out many a younger man at this
sport. He has always been a lover of good hunting dogs and
has bred many champions.
Member of National Office Furniture
Assn., Boston Office Furniture Assn., Wood Office Furniture Assn.,
Life Member Boston Rotary, 32 Degree Mason and Life Member, Director of Mechanics
Charitable Associates, founded by Paul Revere during the
Spends each day, from early morning
until closing time in tireless pursuit of running his two
businesses, the Doten-Dunton Desk Co., and retail store, The
The Doten-Dunton Desk Co. did not
become well known until after the Baltimore fire in 1908. The Baltimore & Ohio R.R. was putting up a new building and
wished to purchase new furniture. Mr. Dunton went to
Baltimore and took this up with the officials. It was then
that what is know known as the sanitary base desk was
developed. Previously all desks were full type
pedestal construction built to floor and generally without
casters. From that time on, Doten-Dunton desks were
developed along sanitary lines.
He attributes his good health to
regular eating and working habits, exercise, and devotion to his
work. He has lost known of his keenness and alertness and
still has an abundance of energy.
Mabel Derby's father started the
Derby Desk Company in Boston in the late 1800s. She was
married to Frederic Chauvin prior to 1900 and bore him two
children, Doris and Joseph. Unfortunately, Fred was a
"rolling stone" and left Mabel with the children. (Note: He later surfaced in New York and opened a company very
similar to the Derby Desk Company)
Kervin Dunton was the foreman of
Derby Desk and, seeing the plight of Mabel and the
children, stepped in with an offer of marriage. Mabel
accepted. Mabel and Kervin later had a daughter, Margorie who
married Harry Austin. When Mabel's father died, Kervin took
over the management of the company and became partners with one
Mr. Doten, changing the company name to Doten-Dunton Desk
Company. The Doten-Dunton enterprise became quite
A History of the
Doten-Dunton Desk Company
In 1904, the factory was in
Cambridge, with the offices at 64-66 Pearl Street in Boston. In
1932, their offices in Boston were at 32 Franklin Street. In 1943,
their offices in Boston were at 91 Federal Street.
The business was founded on an
idea. In April 1902, Kevin R. Dunton, then occupying a prominent
position with a large manufacturing concern, thought that many
planned to produce as cheaply as possible and without regard to
individuality of product. Mr. Dunton felt that many businessmen
would prefer distinctive office furniture, and that he could
develop a market.
At its founding, the firm employed
six cabinetmakers. At the outset, roll top, flat top, typewriter,
and bookkeeper desks were the only items manufactured. Seventy
percent of the product line was of oak, but by 1905, mahogany came
into use and proved popular. The line expanded to include
The firm became famous in 1908, as
a result of the Baltimore fire. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
erected a new building, and desired new furniture. Mr. Dunton
conferred with the officials, and developed what is now called the
sanitary base desk. Built on legs, these desks presented an
improved appearance, and today (1930) this style is universally
known and sought.
Since 1914, walnut had become
increasingly popular, and some 80 percent of the company product
was made of that wood by 1930. In 1930, over 275 skilled workmen
were employed in the Cambridge plant. The firm had its own retail
organization in New England and dealers in all principal cities,
here and abroad. Products were shipped to all parts of the world.
Customers included banks, insurance companies, public service
institutions, and executive offices of commercial concerns.
Source: Excerpt from page 851, "History of
Massachusetts Industries", published in 1930 in two volumes. [Note: Volume 1 presents the major industries in Massachusetts. Volume 2 presents biographies of the company leaders.]
& DUNTON DESK CO.
Doten and Dunton Desk company is
the only firm in Cambridge which makes a specialty of
manufacturing commercial furniture and is the second largest of
its kind in the entire metropolitan district.
This company was organized five
years ago by H. W. Doten and Kerwin R. Dunton, both men being of
wide experience in the business. So rapid has been its development
under their skilful management that although it has from time to
time made additions to its originally extensive plant, It will be
shortly compelled to look for larger quarters.
This company occupies a large
block at 208 Main street, and utilizes over seventy thousand feet
of floor space in the manufacture of strictly high grade
commercial furniture. The machinery of the plant is driven by a
200 horse power engine and more than 175 hands are given
employment. The company has a large store and ware-rooms at 64-66
Pearl street, Boston, and also a store at 89 Fulton street, New
Doten and Dunton Desk company
sends its furniture to all parts of this country and has trade
connections with many foreign cities. It carries on a particularly
large business with retail firms on the Pacific coast.
Throughout New England and in New
York city this company sells directly to the consumer; but in all
other places it sells through agents.
Many fine offices in this
immediate vicinity have been equipped by this firm, among them
being those of the Cambridgeport Savings and Harvard Trust Co.,
those of the United States Smelting, Refining & Mining Co., which
occupies an entire floor of the new Shawmut bank building, and
those of the New England Trust company. The state armory in
Cambridge, was also fitted out with furniture by this company.
Chronicle, July 27, 1907, page 15.