Thos. Moser and St. Timothy’s School
There is nothing we love more than when residential customers share their love of Moser furniture with their institutions and businesses. St. Timothy’s Head of School Randy Stevens is one those special customers. He has been able to take his personal love of our furniture and translate it into the interiors of numerous buildings at the internationally recognized all-girls school.
The campus of St. Timothy’s School, a day and boarding school located in Stevenson, Maryland – known for its rich culture of achievement and its 186-year history of preparing young women to be leaders – is perched on 145 acres an hour outside of our nation’s capital. Recently, named one of the 50 most beautiful private schools in the country by Architectural Digest, the campus provides a wonderful community setting for its 200 students.
Personal Collection Inspires School Interiors
Randy Stevens, the Head of School at St. Timothy’s, and his wife, Dr. Marsha Stevens, began visiting Maine in 1998. On their way to Blue Hill each summer they would visit the Thos. Moser showroom in Freeport. “It was on those summer excursions that I decided I wanted to collect Thos. Moser furniture,” says Randy.
His ethos around collecting started young. His family, particularly his grandmother and uncle, were of the mindset that it was far better to have one or two pieces of fine, quality furniture that could be added to over time than to fill a house with a multitude of pieces that would never last. That philosophy plus reaching a point in their lives where they felt comfortable asking their families and friends to give them gift certificates for their favorite furniture instead of the traditional sweater or night out at a restaurant, made the idea of collecting Thos. Moser pieces a reality for the couple.
Randy’s first purchase was our signature Thos. Moser Continuous Arm Chair over 20 years ago. Today the couple has more than 15 pieces of Thos. Moser furniture – all in cherry – between their school campus residence and their home in DC. “I’ve always loved cherry,” says Randy. “The patina is constantly changing, and I find it fascinating that time and light can alter it. When you first get a Thos. Moser cherry piece it’s very light — it can almost look white — like a piece of ash, but after 20 years it looks like a dark rich — almost mahogany. As a history lover, I find it especially interesting that the furniture ages with you — that it has an age cycle. There’s truly something special about it.”
When he’s not at home behind his Thos. Moser typing desk, Randy is behind his desk as Head of School at St. Timothy’s. The school introduced a rigorous International Baccalaureate program 11 years ago, and since that time has been spearheading the modernization of campus spaces and buildings to better match the academic and residential needs of the students. With building renovations come the need for furniture.
“I loved Thos. Moser furniture, and had it in my own home, but I had no idea the company created furniture for academic institutions until I ran into Aaron Moser at a National Association of Independent School Conference, where he was displaying a number of academic projects. He told me that Thos. Moser Contract builds custom furniture for several high-profile independent schools, colleges and universities all around the country, and that piqued my interest and I immediately shared it with our Board Chair.” said Randy.
It was a fortuitous meeting because, at that time, the School was in the middle of exploring furniture options for the school’s new academic building — Dixon Hall — which was under construction. He and the Building and Grounds Committee of the Board of Trustees were looking for a company that could create beautiful, durable furniture that would also hold up to extensive student use and meet the budget.
“When I arrived at St. Timothy’s in 2003, new furniture had recently been purchased and placed in the library, but it quickly started chipping from bookbags being tossed on top of the tables. Having just made the investment in new furniture, donors were frustrated because they thought the girls weren’t taking care of the furniture, but it was really about the quality of those pieces and their ability to last.”
Since Randy had Thos. Moser furniture in his home, he understood its beauty and durability and thought it would complement the school’s natural aesthetic. “I also admired the Shaker value system behind the company itself — the simple lines of the furniture and the respect for the tree and its lifecycle — that when a tree comes to its end, it can have a new and much longer life as a piece of furniture. Thos. Moser’s understanding of that value, and the ability to repurpose something and give it a longer life is pretty extraordinary. Thos. Moser understands that better than most furniture companies out there today.”
Additionally, at the time of the Dixon Hall renovation, the country was recovering from the 2008 economic crunch, and the school needed a company that could work with them to meet their budget. According to Randy, before we start building anything, we raise all the necessary funds and we keep cash on hand in order to avoid debt. “The team at Moser worked closely with us to develop a custom furniture proposal in an aesthetic that fit the school and at a price that would work for us,” notes Randy. “To this day, when you walk into our library it looks like it was installed yesterday.”
“Purchasing and installing Moser furniture for St. Timothy’s has resulted in a positive financial benefit for the institution,” says Randy. “Our Board is not constantly having to raise funds to redo chairs, which keeps our donors happy and allows us to continue on our mission to modernize other spaces. I think it is really good stewardship. On top of that, there’s a positive to exposing our students to what quality looks like and educating them about the importance of taking care of things – so they can last and don’t end up in a landfill — it’s a value we work hard to teach our students,” stresses Randy.