Vise Tour Day #4 — Meeting the Studley Tool Cabinet’s Previous Owner

Studley DCW

The purpose of the trip was to gather information in support of writing VIRTUOSO: The Tool Cabinet and Workbench of Henry O. Studley, but the schedule of the trip was dependent on pretty much one thing – the availability of Peter Hardwick, whose family owned and preserved the Studley ensemble for over seven decades.  Although we had communicated by phone and email several times, including two fairly formal phone interviews, I was anxious to meet him in person.  My admiration is such that the book will be dedicated in part to Pete in recognition of his family’s stewardship of this national treasure.

I had hoped to visit Peter on my first research trip last February, but somehow we never managed to make the connection.  That made the anticipation for this meeting all the greater.

So I departed Greater Boston for our afternoon and evening of fellowship.  Bless the good people of New England; there seems to be a near-universal disdain for road signs.  Originally I thought it was just a New Hampshire thing, but it is pretty clear to a newcomer to New England that if you do not know where you are going nor how to get there, they would just as soon have you stay home.  Pete and I arranged to meet at the local Post Office, otherwise I might still be wandering around the countryside or at the bottom of a pond somewhere.

The story of the Hardwick family’s interactions with H.O. Studley, and eventual acquisition and stewardship of the tool cabinet and workbench is captiviating, but the lacunae in the family traditions makes the tale ever more puzzling.  Some of the story is the stuff of historic melodrama (Studley was a prisoner-of-war in Texas during the second war of secession), with a dash of television mysteries (a murder is featured prominently in the ensemble’s history), some fairly mundane details (it hung on the wall of Peter’s great uncle’s office for years), and some of the circumstances are downright head-scratching (read the book).  I intend to tell as much of the story as Pete allows, but my desire to celebrate and respect the Hardwick family is paramount.


For hours Pete and his lovely wife and I talked while snacking at the dining table, walking around the homestead (we have some very strong similar interests in this regard), and later over dinner.  We actually spent more time talking about Pete’s love of hot rods and antique cars and the world at large than we did of Mr. Studley’s heritage.  By the end of the evening I felt as though we were long-lost friends.

I am planning a return visit next autumn with my wife. I am certain she will enjoy the Hardwick’s companionship as much as I did.