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New Bush Library features Buffalo-made Kittinger furniture

For more than 40 years now, Buffalo's Kittinger Furniture Company has enjoyed a strong relationship with the White House. Hundreds of handcrafted Kittinger items reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and the company now has a strong presence at the new George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Texas.

About 10,000 people, including the five living U.S. presidents, assembled in Dallas Thursday at the dedication ceremony for center. The Library and Museum within the center features a replica Oval Office furnished by Kittinger.

Company owner and President Raymond Bialkowski says he was commissioned in October to manufacture 15 items for a replica office. The company's custom designers had only photographs to work from. 

"These are truly antiques that have been in the White House for many, many years. Not having the physical piece here that we could touch and feel and measure made it very difficult," Bialkowski says.

"We went back and forth a number of times until we had the exact details to their specifications and to their satisfaction"

Among the handcrafted items the company recreated are fireside chairs, Pembroke tables, a coffee table, a serpentine chest of drawers, and the library table behind the president's desk.

Kittinger's relationship with the White House dates back to 1970, when the Nixon administration began a restoration of the West Wing. Many of those items are still in use today. Bialkowski says there are hundreds of Kittinger pieces at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

"We all take a lot of pride being involved in any type of projects that involve the White House or any other government agency. We thoroughly enjoy the relationship that we've maintained over this many years," he says.

Bialkowski calls the request from the Bush Library "an exceptional honor." The center opens to the public May 1.

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