Some of the most significant of Shoshone Furniture Company’s commissions were the hotels and guest ranches for which Molesworth provided the full western treatment. These large spaces allowed Molesworth to showcase all areas of his expertise.
The Plains Hotel was furnished twice with Molesworth furniture in a six-year period. Then, in 1942, Molesworth designed the bar ad furnished the lobby at the Wort Hotel in Jackson, Wyoming. This popular hotel, which catered to guests from Wallace Beery to various dignitaries and presidents, is as vital today as it was when first constructed. Molesworth commissioned artist J.R. Ralston to do the large murals that decorate the lobby. The Wort Hotel furnishings led to many more commissions in the Jackson Hole area from guests who stayed at the hotel and area residents who gambled in the bar and enjoyed the lobby.
In the Cody area, Shoshone Furniture Company furnished the lobby of Buffalo Bill Village. I am sure the lodge often acted as an impromptu showroom for the Shoshone Furniture Company. Furnished in vibrant colors, this lobby was a showplace. There are two great Molesworth bars with routed images of Buffalo Bill and Sitting Bull, which are still on the property now.
Guest ranches were also the perfect setting for Molesworth’s rustic furniture. Larry Larom’s famous Valley Ranch was furnished by Molesworth in the mid-1930s. Shoshone Furniture Company also furnished a guest ranch called the J Bar 9 on the south fork of the Big Horn River. I was lucky enough to purchase a considerable amount of this furniture over a ten year period.
Some of Molesworth’s greatest masterpieces were done for friends and supporters. One such friend was J.C. “Kid” Nichols, a champion welterweight wrestler and wealthy businessman. Molesworth furnished Nichol’s ranch in 1936 or 1937, even paneling the walls with leather. The commission included a wonderful curved couch, zebra-covered club chairs and an incredible sideboard. The extra effort that went into these pieces was obvious.
Molesworth’s accountant, business adviser and longtime friend traded work for a great bedroom set that spoke of the West, from the old rancher on the chests to the fence-sitters on the twin beds.
The Simpson family from Cody purchased many pieces of furniture over the years from the Shoshone Furniture Company. Molesworth furnished their Bob Cat Ranch in addition to making furniture for their law offices and for the reading room at the Kalif Temple in Sheridan, Wyoming, which also features a frieze by Molesworth’s frequent collaborator Ed Grigware.
In the short time that Shoshone Furniture Company was in business, Molesworth did an amazing job of growing his company, developing a marketing plan, and defining a distinctive furniture line, as well as aligning himself with a professional group of suppliers and collaborating artists and artisans. This was no small task in an isolated western town that was far from any large city or manufacturing hub. Molesworth succeeded by bringing the artists to Cody and training local craftsmen to do the quality work that he demanded. By 1940, it was apparent that Shoshone Furniture Company was the leader in the evolving western design movement.