On this cozy, snowed-in morning I thought it was about time to post some photos of the bench I had mentioned a couple weeks ago. It’s done, and I’m so happy with it!

We purchased a beautiful dining room table and chairs set when we moved into this house. We loved the look of it; however, after a while it started to really annoy us that this huge table could only sit 6 people because the chairs that came with is were ENORMOUS. Because of their size, they also tipped over easily. Lots of bumps and bruises were a result of these chairs tipping! A long time ago I started to wonder what it would be like to have a bench at one side of the table. I loved the way it looked in magazines, and it seemed so practical…I could squeeze lots of kiddos on a bench at that table! My heart was set on the idea, and the search began!

After months of looking, I finally ran across a post on Craigslist for an 8-foot wooden bench from a one room schoolhouse. I was instantly in LOVE!! My dear brother drove us to Boone to pick it up with his truck, and I’m certain that everyone involved thought I was crazy…was I seriously going to put this in my dining room?! But I saw it’s potential, and all she needed was a little TLC. Here’s what she looked like when my wonderful dad started sanding it: 

It's hard to tell from the photo, but this thing was in rough shape. It seemed to have never been stained, and the wood was compltely weathered.

Amidst the FREEZING COLD and the sawdust flying everywhere (even on the camera lens) my dad and I got it all sanded!

My favorite part about this bench is it’s history. The back and seat of the bench are solid wood, and the legs are all cast iron. One of the legs contains some pretty cool information about it…it’s imprinted with an 1878 date. That means this bench is over 130 years old! This bench came from a very old one room schoolhouse, and was called a recitation bench. A recitation bench sat near the teacher’s desk, and was used for grade-level appropriate activities. For example, while all the kids were working on their slates and reading their books, the teacher would have all the 2nd graders come to the recitation bench to recite their daily lesson. When they were finished, the next age group would sit at the recitation bench to do the same. As I worked on this bench I kept wondering about all the children that have sat on this bench, what they learned, and I kept thinking of all the stories it could tell.

After lots of work, here’s what it looks like after the sanding and several coats of oil-based polyurethane. I LOVE the fact that it still looks so old…I REALLY wanted it to still retain its awesome character. We opted out of sanding out all the imperfections, as I thought this would lend more to its history.

Here’s what it looks like in its new home in our dining room:

I’m loving the fact that we can seat more people at this table with the bench and new, smaller chairs. Now, I’ll just love it even more when we can replace the white carpet with wide-planked, rustic-looking hardwood flooring! I feel like I’ve given this old bench a new purpose, and I LOVE it! I know that lots of kids in the past have sat at this bench and been taught the basics of education. Now, I hope that my children and any others who sit at this will be taught so much more…I pray that the individuals who now occupy this bench will see, hear, and feel God’s love permeated throughout our home. I pray our family will make memories at this table to last a lifetime, and I pray that our guests would feel loved as they share a meal with us. I know to some it’s just a bench…but to me, it’s so much more!