FREEPORT, Maine — Thos. Moser furniture is making two chairs for Pope Francis when the leader of the Roman Catholic church visits Philadelphia later this month.
The Auburn-based maker of handmade furniture, which has a showroom at 149 Main St., is making one chair for the pontiff’s arrival in Philadelphia on Sept. 26, and another for when he leaves the following day. Thos. Moser is also making chairs for four Cardinals during the visit.
Owner Thomas Moser said it’s a great feeling to have been chosen to make chairs for the Pope. He said the workers making the chairs are very excited.
“I’m happy for the people here in our shop who are making the chairs and have such great pride in doing so,” he said. “I can see it in their eyes and on their faces, and that is just wonderful.”
Thos. Moser also made a chair for Pope Benedict XVI in 2008, but these are the first chairs being made for Pope Francis.
Moser’s son Aaron Moser said the process began several months ago when a Thos. Moser representative in Philadelphia asked the Archdiocese of Philadelphia if the company could provide chairs.
Aaron Moser said a lot of work has gone into selecting and making the chairs just right for the pope.
“For them to care over such small things as a chair, it’s an honor,” he said.
Pope Francis and the Cardinals will sit in Moser’s Catena chairs while visiting Independence Hall.
Before heading back to Rome on Sept. 27, the pope will use a Harpswell chair during an airport departure ceremony.
Aaron Moser said it’s exciting that the chairs will be seen by up to 40,000 people in person, as well as millions more watching on TV.
Moser said the chairs aren’t elaborate or over the top.
“It’s nice to make a chair that’s understated, that’s simple, and has less fanfare,” he said, noting it’s how Thos. Moser makes most of its furniture.
“We like to think of ourselves as the makers of the antiques of the future,” Moser said.
The styles of chairs to be used by the pope retail for $1,300-$1,500. Thos. Moser is donating its time making the chairs, but the chairs will be returned to the company after the pope’s visit.
Aaron Moser said he’s not sure what will be done with the chairs or how much they’ll be worth after the pope sits in them. He said the company will either put them in a museum or organize a fundraiser around their sale.
“Certainly they’ll be worth more (than retail value) to someone,” he said.
Thos. Moser has made furniture for other high-profile people in the past, including former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and Apple founder Steve Jobs. The company also made much of the furniture seen in the movie “The Notebook.”
Thomas Moser said if he could make furniture for any famous person he wanted, he wouldn’t choose another world leader or religious figure.
“I’ve never really thought about that, but I would probably have to say Warren Buffett, because he has the means to buy anything he wants, but prefers to live more simply than most of his contemporaries,” he said.
Aaron Moser said the company may have already reached its peak, though, in terms of who uses their furniture.
“Making a chair for the pope twice, it doesn’t get much better than that,” he said.