The late Stuart Walston and Doris Schaum Walston, Wilson, North Carolina

The late Stuart Walston and Doris Schaum Walston were pillars of the community in Wilson, North Carolina. Stuart Walston, who attended the Parsons School of Design, was a highly respected interior designer, both residential and commercial, well known both regionally in North Carolina and in New York City (his son, Stuart, later took over the family business). Walston’s work was manifest all over the area, in homes, country clubs, and corporate settings. Doris Walston’ contributions were strong and lasting, as well. She was deeply and actively devoted to the Wilson community, especially via her involvement in the First United Methodist Church—including saving some of its contents when it caught fire in 1984. Doris came from a family with long ties to the area. Her grandfather, U.H. Cozart, was one of Wilson’s pioneers in the tobacco business, the founder of the Center Brick Warehouse, which operated for many decades, a mainstay of tobacco commerce until 1986. Granddaughter Doris earned the title of “tobacco queen.”

We are honored to present selections from the Walstons’ collection of furniture, fine art and decorative art in The Winter Quarterly Auction. These are pieces from the heyday of stately Southern décor, bespeaking the cultured gentility and warmth of another era. A strong example is a late eighteenth-century bowfront mahogany chest on chest. This large, understated but regal piece possesses great power and authority. It’s one of several classically styled pieces of furniture from the Walstons’ collection featured in the upcoming sale.

The variety in the Walstons’ collection, and the global reach of the tobacco industry in its prime, is evident in a number of China Trade paintings included in the auction. These historically important pieces, most from the nineteenth century, give a suggestion of the breadth of the Walstons’ tastes, and they speak to the international marriage of trade and regional commerce with art collecting and aesthetic appreciation—and to the layering of one bygone era upon another.