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Fit for a Bank

Texana Furniture work to grace Corpus Christi's FirstCapital Bank

The Victoria Advocate

Becky Showers, senior vice president of corporate planning for FirstCapital Bank, said when it came time to design offices for the bank's new building in Corpus Christi, she needed to find a furniture designer whose rustic pieces could mix with the bank's contemporary artwork and office furniture.

She chose David Clifton of Texana Furniture Co. in Victoria.

Showers saw Clifton's work at charity auctions in Victoria.

"He had donated a table to the Cattle Baron's auction. It didn't bring much more than what someone could have gone out and bought it for, but he could have sold it for a lot more. That doesn't matter to him because he is just so proud of what he does," she said.

Showers recently purchased a sideboard that Clifton had donated to the St. Joseph High School auction. It, as well as a desk, small table and armoire/bookcase, will be placed in Regent President David Barnhart's office in the FirstCapital Bank Building on Water Street in Corpus Christi.

Clifton is also making a long table and a credenza for the bank's conference room. Showers would not quote a price for Clifton's work, but she said purchasing furniture from him was more economical than if she had bought it from a decorator.

Showers said Chief Executive Officer/President Mike Hunter prefers a contemporary look for his banks, but he is interested to see how she will pull off this combination.

"I will bring this wood in and make it look contemporary. I think it is neat in South Texas when you are able to do something that pulls your roots down to where you live. Instead of saying we have black oak from Germany, we have mesquite wood from South Texas," she said.

Clifton said the days of matching pieces of furniture are over. "Peoples' tastes are more eclectic. Mixing pieces gives a room a warmer feel.

I'm big on early Texas furniture, and I think it goes anywhere."

Clifton has often used long leaf pine wood from demolished 19th century homes to make his furniture. In this case, he is using donated mesquite wood from Victoria County.

He has found that working with mesquite is much easier than the hard, weathered pine. "The long leaf pine has been aging for 100 years, and was from a tree that was 300 to 500 years old to begin with. The mesquite is a much softer wood."

David Clifton

David Clifton of Texana Furniture Co. sands a tabletop destined for the FirstCapital Bank's new building In Corpus Christi. The Victoria furniture designer uses aged wood in his handmade designs. His rustic pieces will be part of the new building's decor.

Interior designers from Houston and Corpus, who are coordinating with Showers, are impressed with Clifton's work, she said. "Every time I've shown them the pictures of the furniture they are amazed with his superior work. They can't wait to see the finished product."

She is also in awe of what Clifton can create from the pieces of wood he salvages from old homes.

The bank had purchased property in Cuero for a new branch office that is under construction on Broadway Street. Clifton tore down the house that was on the property and used the wood to make a table for King Ranch. "I was amazed because the house had no value at the time," Showers said.

All of the pieces are expected to be completed by Nov. 15, the same day the bank in Corpus is scheduled to be finished. "We have the sideboard, and the conference table is finished. I'm not real sure where he is with anything else. I leave him alone and let him work" she said.

This is not Clifton's first corporate order, and he's sure it won't be his last. He recently made 29 pieces for a large ranch and 14 pieces for a law firm in Houston. Although the orders keep coming in, Clifton said the quality won't change. "I still make each piece by hand, one at a time."

Although Showers has dealt with different furniture manufacturers, she said working with Clifton is special.

"He wants to know something about the person he is designing for. He tells you a story about where the wood came from. You know something about the people who owned it, that it may have come from their barn, for instance. You feel you have a true piece of history, that he has reincarnated this wood. He is a real treasure."

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