This sophisticated piece showcases the solid, clean lines of classic block-front design and the refinement of late eighteenth-century Boston cabinetmaking. Its quality suggests that it was made in one of the leading shops of the time, such as those of Benjamin Frothingham (1734-1809) or George Bright (1726-1805).
According to tradition, this desk-and-bookcase descended in the Hunt family and was originally made for General Arad Hunt (1743-1825) of Vernon, Vermont and Hinsdale, New Hampshire. Born July 31, 1743, the youngest of four sons to Samuel and Anna Ellsworth Hunt, Hunt led a rich life as a militia officer and a land speculator. He served in Vermont's Cumberland County Militia, commissioned on January 4, 1776 for the First or Lower Regiment alongside his brother Jonathan, which seems to have cemented a lifelong partnership between the two. Father Samuel Hunt was active in establishing new territories around New Hampshire, and in time, both Arad and Jonathan also became speculators in vast amounts of land, purchasing acreage around Vermont, New Hampshire, and what is now New York state. Hunt never married or had children of his own, but left his estate, including land, property and furnishings to his brother’s family. He was also one of the major early benefactors of Middlebury College in Vermont, donating 5,000 acres to the school in 1813, thus cementing the institution’s long term viability. For more information on Hunt family wills, land deeds, and probate inventories, see Thomas Bellows Wyman, Genealogy of the Name and Family of Hunt (Boston, 1862-3).