This is the article that our local KXAN TV station did on our work for the restoration of the drapery,rugs and upholstery at the LBJ Ranch outside of Austin.
Austin company cleans up history
LBJ furniture gets a scrubbing
Updated: Sunday, 06 Dec 2009, 10:53 PM CST Published : Wednesday, 02 Dec 2009, 5:51 PM CST
AUSTIN (KXAN) - When the Texas State Preservation Board needs a couch cleaned, K.C. O'Hanlon gets a call.
O'Hanlon owns Austin Specialty Cleaners
and he's tackled lots of dirty furniture for the board, pieces from the
Governor's Mansion and the governor's office in the State Capitol. Word
gets around in government circles, so when the National Park Service
needed some furniture cleaning, O'Hanlon's company was invited to put
in a bid.
When he won, couches, chairs and all manner of other
items started coming in waves to his North Austin cleaning plant.
The stuff came from former President Lyndon Johnson's ranch at Stonewall, Texas, near Johnson City.
is LBJ's favorite recliner," O'Hanlon said as he reached down and
opened up an almost four decade old chair. "You can just see the big
The recliner still works perfectly, but the seat cushion
is in need of some serious work. The foam core is hard and bits of it
are crumbling inside the cover.
"We're actually going to have to
replace this," said O'Hanlon. "We're going to cut a new core for it
before we can do any of the cleaning. We can't do any of the cleaning
because the inside is just lined with dead foam."
On a rack
above the recliner are two brown rocking chair cushions and a couple of
arm pads. They once offered padded comfort to President John Kennedy
during a visit to the ranch.
"He only actually made one visit
there that I'm aware of," said O'Hanlon. "They were scheduled to visit
the ranch for a few days on Nov. 23, '63, the day after he was
Nearby, an employee in the shop unleashes a steam
cleaner on some of the pieces. The results are immediate and obvious. A
filter will be needed when the work moves on to one of Lady Bird
Johnson's favorite chairs. That's because the fabric is beginning to
wear severely and the direct steam treatment would be more than the
material could handle.
"Lady Bird loved to have wool embroidery
over top of either linen or a heavy cotton," said O'Hanlon, holding a
matching arm cover from the chair."
As the work progresses, surprises sometimes emerge.
last batch that came in included the couch from the family room," said
O'Hanlon. "One of the first things we do is remove everything and get
into the nooks and crannies. We found the remote control for the TV in
the family room."
O'Hanlon's biggest thrill in all of this,
however, is the rare peak he is getting into the life and environment
of one of the country's most fascinating leaders on his own turf, in
our own back yard.
"I tell you, the tour we did of the ranch
when we went to do this bid, it's a privilege, it's an honor, but it's
just absolutely fascinating because it is literally, they shut it
down," he said. "His bedroom is exactly the way it was; the clothes are
still there; everything that's on the walls, the pictures. It's just
So far, the National Park Service
has opened President Johnson's office, the living room and the dining
room for public tours in the house. The rest of the home will be
included as individual rooms become ready.