George M. Olivier, a master craftsman and artist, opened Olivier’s Fine Cypress Furniture in Natchitoches in 1965. He recently passed away at the age of 78.
His daughter Chalon Abhol decided to keep the family business open, having worked with him closely for the last several years. She will continue to produce furniture with the same designs, patterns, and methods George used.
“Dad and I were very close,” she said. “Continuing the family business was something I just knew I had to do.”
The completion of a recent project is poignant for Chalon, as it brings her to reminisce on the continuation of her father’s work. An article published in the Alexandria Town Talk in 1989 featured an octangular Empire bed with a full tester canopy. George eventually stopped making this particular design, choosing to transition to a style with shorter posts.
Twenty-nine years later, as Chalon reads the article, she is ready to ship an octangular Empire bed with a full tester canopy for a client in Dallas.
George was forced to stop work on this bed once his health began to decline. At the age of 50, it was a touching moment for Chalon as she carved and assembled the same bed design her father was recognized for building at the age of 50.
The customers, Gary Cathey and Justin Normand, considered George a member of their family. They saw a drawing for the Empire bed in a Kirshman’s Furniture ad that hung on the wall in Olivier’s gallery on Front Street.
While they have bought several of George’s pieces in the past, Gary said this new piece will be special to them because it was among the last pieces of furniture he was working on before he passed.
“He’s been a friend of the family for generations,” said Gary. “We’ve always respected his work. Like Clementine Hunter, there are so few artists in Natchitoches that are truly original. He gave his interpretations of historic furniture a fresh approach by building them completely in cypress wood. He gave a simple elegance to everything he designed. He was a great ambassador for Natchitoches and the City lost a treasure when he passed.”