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AMERICAN FURNITURE HALL OF FAME HISTORICAL TIMELINE OF THE FURNITURE INDUSTRY (PART one)_America-News-Anji - China Angel furniture directory (china chairs industry) B2B network[]


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1620 Cooper John Alde 1st American Cabinetmaker
1620 Cooper John Alden arrives in Massachusetts in . He is said to be America??s first furniture maker and is mentioned in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow??s poem, ?°The Courtship of Miles Standish.?± (I-5)

‍1640 Ralph Mason Cabinetmaker
1640 Ralph Mason arrives in Boston from London. Trained as a joiner, he becomes one of the principal furniture makers of the day, along with Henry Messinger and Thomas Edsall. (I-190)

‍1650 New England Style & Construction
1650 Fine cupboards and chairs of handsome design and excellent craftsmanship are being turned out in the burgeoning towns along the Eastern seacoast, including Boston and New York. New England furniture of the period 1620-1720 is distinguished by its simple, sturdy, rectilinear design. Oak is the primary material. (A-40, H-5 and I-8-9)

‍1663 Thomas Dennis Important Cabinetmaker
1663 Thomas Dennis arrives in Portsmouth, N.H., from England. He becomes one of the most important furniture makers of his day, specializing in wainscot chairs, cupboards and chests heavily ornamented with carved decoration. (I-82)

‍1675 - 1700s William & Mary
1675 to early 1700s American William and Mary style, a variation of American Baroque furniture, is popular. It replaces the straightforward rectilinearity of 17th-century furniture with curves and color. Some of designs, particularly those from Boston, feature Japanning. A number of new furniture forms also appear during the period, including the secretary, slant-top desk, highboy, lowboy and butterfly table, all of which become staple forms throughout the rest of the century. An increasing use of upholstery testifies to a greater concern for comfort in furniture. (I-9-10)

‍1707 Edward Evans
1707 Cabinetmaker Edward Evans makes the oldest dated piece of furniture produced in Philadelphia, a fall-front desk in the William and Mary style. (I-103)

‍1720s Queen Anne-style
1720s Queen Anne-style furniture begins to be made in the Colonies. Based on the English Queen Anne style, the American version features solid walnut with minimal ornamentation. The style remains popular until the 1750s, when American Chippendale emerges. (I-8-9)

‍1725 1st English Windsor Chairs
1725 The first American versions of the English Windsor chair begin to appear in Philadelphia. By 1760, they are the predominant chairs for common use. They feature a wide variety of back treatments, including comb, fan, hoop and bow backs, a combination of woods, and a thick, saddle-shaped seat. Gilbert Ash, an early exponent of New York Chippendale furniture, may have been the principal formulator of a complicated pierced splat pattern, centered on a diamond shape, that is widely used in New York chairs of the day. Another prominent chair maker based in Philadelphia is Thomas Gilpin. (H-461 and I-17, 123)

‍1738 Boston - Job Coit Jr.
1738 Boston cabinetmaker Job Coit Jr. creates a secretary in the Chippendale manner, retaining elements of the earlier Queen Anne style. This piece is the earliest datable instance of the use of the blockfront in American furniture. (I-66)

‍1740s John Goddard Moves To Newport
1740s John Goddard moves to Newport, R.I. He apprentices with Job Townsend, whose daughter he marries. With his father-in-law, Goddard is credited with the fullest development of the blockfront design. (I-124)

‍1750's New England Styles
1750 By this time, there are distinct styles of cabinetmaking in Boston, Newport, New York and Philadelphia. John Goddard in Newport and William Savery and James Gillingham and John Townsend in Philadelphia produce furniture comparable to the better English work. Their styles employ architectural details, intricate Rococo curves and claw feet. Philadelphia Chippendale is a distinct style school centering in Philadelphia that executes the elaborate style of Chippendale in fine mahogany, with some walnut and maple and rich carvings. (H-13, 336)

‍1750's Immigrants Make Pennsylvania Country Furniture
Mid-century Immigrants from Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and the Netherlands settle in eastern Pennsylvania and begin making the homely, straightforward cabinetwork of their homelands. They adapt the traditional ancient forms and methods to their slightly changed needs and materials. Using native pine, maple, walnut, cherry and other fruit trees, they create simple-lined furniture embellished with painted designs of fruits, flowers and animals. (H-335)

‍1754 Chippendale "Cabinetmaker" Published
1754 Designer Thomas Chippendale??s book, ?°The Gentleman and Cabinetmaker??s Director,?± is published in England. The book has a tremendous impact on Colonial American furniture. Major colonial cities such as Boston, Newport, R.I., New York and Philadelphia develop distinctive local styles of Chippendale while smaller cities tend to adhere to Chippendale??s published examples more strictly. (I-6)

‍1762 Benjamin Randolph Establishes Shop In Philadelphia
1762 By this year, Benjamin Randolph has established a large shop in Philadelphia, producing elaborately ornamented mahogany furniture. Along with the work of fellow-Philadelphia Jonathan Gostelowe, his firm produces the most lavishly represented Rococo furniture in America. When the American Revolution breaks out, he closes his business and moves to southern New Jersey, where he manufactures pig iron for the Revolutionary Army. After the war, he resumes furniture making on a smaller scale, and some of his work foreshadows the coming neoclassical style of the federal period. (I-236)

‍1763 Thomas Affleck Cabinetmaker Arrives In Philadelphia
1763 Scottish cabinetmaker Thomas Affleck arrives in Philadelphia. He is appointed by John Penn, the colonial governor of Pennsylvania, to serve as ?°resident cabinetmaker?± to the city. There, he becomes a leading practitioner of the Rococo style. (I-4)

1765 Benjamin Willard Clock Factory
1765 Benjamin Willard establishes a clock-making factory in Grafton, Mass., around this time. Family continues to make clocks until 1848. Simon Willard, working in Roxbury, invents the banjo wall clock around 1800. (H-459)

‍1780 Jacob Forster Opens Cabinet Shop
1780 Jacob Forster opens a small cabinetmaking shop in Charlestown, Mass., near Boston. In 1793, he establishes one of the first furniture-producing establishments. Components requiring painstaking work are ?°farmed out?± to laborers at the state prison. Then, in the 1820s, Jacob Forster and Son set up a cabinet and chair shop inside the state prison. (A-41)

‍1780-1830 Federal Period
1780-1830 Federal period of furniture making that begins after the Revolutionary War and declines with the onset of heavier, more coarse Empire styling. The Federal style is completely classical, with traces of antique Pompeiian and Greco-Roman design coming through Adam, Hepplewhite, Sheraton and Regency influences from England; and Louis XIV, Directoire and Empire influences from France. The premier designer of the Federal period is Duncan Phyfe, who arrived in New York around 1790. (H-209 and 338)

‍1790s Joseph Barry Neoclassical Style Cabinet Maker
1790s Irish cabinetmaker Joseph Barry arrives in Philadelphia. He becomes a prominent maker of Neoclassical style furniture, applying French-influenced ideas to the patterns of Thomas Sheraton. He later opens a branch in Baltimore, becoming one of the noted practitioners of a Baltimore specialty ¨C furniture with eglomise panels. (I-24)

‍1790's John and Hugh Findlay - Baltimore Cabinet Makers
Brothers John and Hugh Findlay arrive in Baltimore. They establish themselves as the leading producers of painted furniture. They probably made and painted the American Empire-style furniture designed by Benjamin Latrobe for the White House in 1809 and burned by British troops in 1812. (I-107)

‍1792 Duncan Fife Moves To NYC
1792 Scottish immigrant Duncan Fife moves to New York City after an apprenticeship in Albany, N.Y., and begins a furniture business after changing the spelling of his name to Phyfe. He becomes a leading maker of Federal-style furniture based on the designs of Thomas Sheraton. He is particularly noted for his version of a Sheraton tripod-based pedestal table. As the 18th century ends, he begins to follow the Directory style??s rendering of the British Regency style manner. So influential and widely imitated were these pieces that the term Duncan Phyfe has often been applied to all Directory-style work. After 1815, the influence of the French Empire style is absorbed by Phyfe and other American furniture makers. Toward the end of his career, Phyfe experiments with the emerging Revival style, but his fame rests on his long career as an interpreter of neoclassical design. He retires in 1847. (I-222)

‍1794 John Seymour Furniture Maker - Federal Period
1794 John Seymour moves to Boston and opens a furniture shop with his son Thomas. They are among the leading Boston furniture makers of the Federal period, producing products in a large workshop that employs joiners, carvers, inlay workers, finishers, boston painters and gilders. They use imported materials and factory methods to produce a wide range of furniture in considerable quantity. (I-271)

‍1797-1868 J. & J. W. Meeks - Leading Furniture Producer
1797-1868 New York furniture maker J. & J. W. Meeks establishes itself as one of the leading furniture producers, making a wide variety of revival styles, including Federal and American Empire designs. (I-193)

‍1800 First Rocking Chairs Introduced
1800 Around this time, the first rocking chairs are introduced. The curved slat fastened to the feet of a chair enables it to be rocked back and forth. Several unique types evolve in New England, such as the Salem rocker and the Boston rocker, with high comb backs and thick scroll seats typically painted and decorated in a fruit-and-flower motif. (H-357)

‍1803 Cabinetmaker Charles-Honore Lannuier Arrives in New York
1803 Cabinetmaker Charles-Honore Lannuier arrives in New York. Working in a skillful Directoire manner, he serves wealthy patrons throughout the Hudson Valley on down to Maryland. His style encompasses Empire as his popularity grows. (H-281)

‍1808-1815 Samuel Gragg Produces Elastic Chair
1808-1815 Working in Bostn, Samuel Gragg produces several models of a patented chair form called the Elastic chair. In this chair, much of the traditional joinery is eliminated by the use of a single sheet of plywood bent into a form that constitutes the stiles, back, seat and front legs. This novel experiment foreshadows the work of Michael Thonet by a generation. (I-128)

‍1810-1830 American Empire Style Popularity
1810-1830 American Empire style enjoys period of popularity. Based on elements from the French Empire style and the British Regency style, American Empire is characterized by massive and bold furniture with rounded corners and other curvilinear components. The American Empire style reaches its height in the work of New York furniture makers C.H. Lannuier and Duncan Phyfe, the leading American cabinetmaker of his generation. (I-7)

‍1815 Shaker furniture
1815 Shaker furniture ¨C distinguished by simple lines, clean forms and lack of ornamentation ¨C acquires a recognizable identity around this time. Its uniformity of style reflects the gospel conviction of the religious communities from which it comes. Rocking chairs are among the items made popular by the Shakers. (G-140)

‍1817 Zoarite Craftsmen - Simple Furniture
1817 Zoarite craftsmen, coming from the German state of Wurttenburg, settle in Ohio. They establish a utopian community, making simple furniture with carved decoration, related to German models. (I-331)

‍1818 Hitchcock Chair Co. Founded
1818 Hitchcock Chair Co. is founded in Connecticut by Lambert Hitchcock. The company takes an assembly-line type approach to furniture production and uses division of labor principles similar to those of New England factories making guns and clocks. At its peak, the company produces 15,000 chairs per year. It is best known for the Hitchcock chair, a ?°poor man??s Sheraton?± chair with pillow back, oval-turned top rail, straight-turned front legs and rush or caned seat enclosed in thin wood strips. Most often these are painted to simulate rosewood, with a powdered-gold stencil of fruit or flowers. The company remains in operation until 2006. In 2010, Still River Furniture purchases the Hitchcock name, plans and artwork with a goal of reintroducing the line. (C-8, H-260 and 321 and company Web site)

‍1822 Francois Seignouret - New Orleans Rococo Revival Cabinetmaker
1822 Francois Seignouret establishes his own shop in New Orleans. He becomes the acknowledged leader of New Orleans?? cabinetmakers, working in a massive, heavily carved version of the Rococo Revival style. A piece known as the Seignouret chair, which he develops, is a gondola chair with a carved splat. (I-269)

‍1826 Heywood-Wakefield Begins Operations
1826 Heywood-Wakefield begins operations in Gardner, Mass. Over the next half-century a number of other furniture manufacturing operations spring up around in Boston, including Gardner, Winchester and Fitchburg. The area becomes known as the Massachusetts Chairmaking District.?± The district supplies the furniture needs of New England and the rest of civilized America. (A-41)

‍1830 New York-Area Furniture Producers Expand
1830 New York-area furniture producers begin to expand their sales to towns to the south and west. Within a decade, they snatch the lead in national furniture production from Boston. For the first time, they begin producing items of furniture in quantity, keeping a stock of popular pieces for quick shipment. (A-42)

‍1836 William ?°Deacon?± Haldane Sets Up Cabinet Shop
1836 William ?°Deacon?± Haldane arrives in Grand Rapids, Mich., and sets up a cabinet shop. He is credited with introducing furniture-making to Grand Rapids. Haldane made a wide range of products: case pieces, beds, chairs, tables and, as was common for many traditional cabinetmakers, coffins. The timber supply, transportation provided by the Grand River and waterpower afforded by the rapids entices other cabinetmakers to follow suit. (A-43, l-22, 23)

‍1840 John Hall Publishes First American Pattern Book
1840 John Hall, an architect and designer, publishes The Cabinet Maker??s Assistant, the first American pattern book. (I-134)

‍1840s Cincinnati Becomes Large Furniture Manufacturing Center
1840s Cincinnati becomes the largest furniture manufacturing center in the area. Among the successful firms is Mitchell & Rammelsberg, which specializes in inexpensive furniture fashioned by workers using steam-powered machinery. (L-34)

‍1844 Mitchell & Rammelsburg Founded in Cincinnati
1844 Mitchell & Rammelsburg is founded in Cincinnati. By the 1860s, it is is one of the largest American furniture producers, producing pieces in every style for every market, but with a particular emphasis on Renaissance Revival and Eastlake-style furniture. (I-197)

‍1840s John Henry Belter Pioneers Use of Lamination
1840s John Henry Belter pioneers the use of lamination in his rococo-style furniture. His flowing forms are emphasized by delicate naturalistic carving, pierced in many places. This is achieved by the use of laminated panels ¨C layers of wood, each only 1/16 of an inch thick, glued together so that the grain of one layers runs in the opposite direction from that of the next. The panels are steamed and bent into shape in molds before being carved. (G-136)

‍1847 Jacob Faller launches Faller??s Furniture
1847 Jacob Faller launches Faller??s Furniture in Fryburg, Pa. The business begins by building wagons, coffins and furniture. The original store is destroyed by a tornado in 1890, and a second building is destroyed by fire in 1908. The company rebuilt again and that building still stands today. In 2000, the store moves to historic downtown Clarion, where it continues to operate. (C-116) See history of Faller's Furniture in Furniture World Magazine's Retail History Series.

1849 E.M. Ball, a schoolteacher from Syme, N.H., arrives in Grand Rapids to become WIlliam Powers?? partner in a new venture in lumbering and furniture-making. The company soon develops a trade ?°over the lake?± in Chicago and Milwaukee. In 1851, Powers negotiates an order for 10,000 chairs for delivery to Chicago. With this order backlog, the partners build a two-story building on the banks of the rapids. Sales in 1851 reach  $30,000 and the firm employs 40 workers. The company is credited with establishing furniture manufacturing in Grand Rapids (as opposed to cabinetmaking).(A-43-44, L-24)


1850 Furniture manufacturing operations begin to spring up in Philadelphia, Jamestown, N.Y., and the Midwest. Other furniture production centers begin to develop in Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio; Shelbyville, Ind.; and Chicago. From 1850 to 1860, the number of furniture factories in Chicago increases from 13 to 26. Most of these products are described as ?°common and useful rather than luxurious and expensive.?± Luxurious furnishings continue to be ordered from Boston or New York. (A-42 and L-34)


Thomas Day, a free black, has become one of the most prominent furniture makers of antebellum North Carolina. By this date, he employs a number of other cabinetmakers, both black and white, and produces furniture in various styles of the early Victorian period. (I-80 and J)


1850s Four important Grand Rapids-based furniture manufacturers are established: the Nelson-Matter Co., Berkey and Gay, Eagles and Pullman and Winchester Brothers. By 1860, there are nine furniture manufacturing companies in Grand Rapids, employing 53 workers. Salesmen fan out from Grand Rapids across the East and Midwest to sell furniture from photographs, an innovation that replaces the full-sized samples or small models that have been previously used. (A-44-45)


Lathes begin to turn out miles of simple turnings, like the ?°spool,?± which finds its way into the spool bed around 1850. (H-322)


1856 George Widdicomb, an Englishman, arrives in Grand Rapids. He works for a year at the Winchester Brothers?? factory, then starts a small manufacturing operation of his own. The business is destroyed in a fire in 1858, but with his four sons he begins again. Business builds steadily until the late 1850s/early 1860s, when economic turmoil and the Civil War bring a near halt to production. (A-44)


1858 Furniture and coffin maker Theron Millspaugh buys Millspaugh House in Pouoghkeepsie, N.Y., from John Woolsey. In 1866, he erects a three-story building to replace the original 18x24-foot shop. The building, then used as a factory and store, is still in use today by retailer Millspaugh House. (C-114)


David Fish launches L. Fish Furniture, named after his wife Lotta, in Chicago. They lose their stores in the Great Chicago Fire but rebuild them and continue to operate through two World Wars and the Great Depression. Today, the company operates a store in Indianapolis, Ind. (C-116)


1859 Cabinetmaker Auguste Pottier and upholsterer William Pierre Stymus open furniture manufacturer Pottier & Stymus. The company, known for its Neo-Grec styles of the 1870s and 1880s, becomes one of New York??s most fashionable furniture makers. (I-229)


1860 By this date, a number of platform rockers are patented and in production. A type of rocking chair in which the chair rocks on springs mounted on an immobile base, or platform, this form remains popular until the early 20th century. In its day, it replaces the standard rocking chair, which tends to make noise, creep across the floor and trip up the unwary with its extended rockers. (I-226)


1860s-1870s Neo-Grec style, a dramatic variant of Renaissance Revival, emerges. Neo-Grec is chiefly distinguished by elaborate Egyptian decorative motifs, such as sphinxes and lotus blossoms combined with varied elements of the eclectic Renaissance Revival style. (I-208)


Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Nelson, Matter & Co. establishes a specialty of producing chamber suites. Chamber suites provided bedrooms with coherent sets of furnishings, replacing the motley assortments of uncoordinated goods found in middle-class sleeping areas before the mid-19th century. Repeated design elements, materials and finishes helped people see at once that these objects were designed to be installed and used together. Part of the appeal of suites was their ability to convey the appearance of significant wealth, for they suggested that their owners had the financial resources to buy an extensive set of furniture in one purchase. The most basic chamber suites consisted of a bedstead, chest of drawers with mirror and a washstand. Large and expensive suites also contained a dressing case with mirror, bedside stand, tea table, four tea chairs, a nurse or sewing rocker and a towel bar. (L-10, 11)


1863 Dan W. Shaw founds Braman, Shaw and Company in Cambridge, Mass. The company later acquires the Jacob Forster operation. It evolves into the Shaw Furniture Co. (A-41)


1863-1882 Kimbel & Cabus, a New York manufacturing firm, become one of the chief producers of Modern Gothic, or Eastlake style, furniture, popularized through the writings and designs of Charles Locke Eastlake and Bruce Talbert. (I-162)


1865 Chair making in Thomasville, N.C., starts this year when D.S. Westmoreland opens a small shop on Randolph Street. The enterprise employs 10 to 12 workers, turning out two to three dozen chairs a day. (F-59)


1866 An informal furniture market is held in Cincinnati, with furniture buyers visiting factories in the area to see their latest wares. Several Grand Rapids producers also exhibit their products. (A-184)


1870 The Cabinet Maker magazine publishes its first issue. The magazine was the creation of Ludwig Bauman, president of Ludwig Bauman Co., a New York retailer; William Sherer, president of manufacturer and retailer Paine??s of Boston; and Levi Heywood, senior partner in Heywood Brothers & Company, the forerunner of famed manufacturer Heywood Wakefield. Bauman??s store, known for its innovative business practices, was considered to be the first U.S. furniture dealer to offer a charge account system. (C-6, 7)


1870 Furniture World magazine, under the direction of John Towse, publishes its first issue. The initial staff includes G.H. Langworthy as secretary, who eventually becomes editor and owner. She later sells the magazine to N.I. ?°Sandy?± Bienenstock, who goes on to establish the Bernice Bienenstock Furniture Library in High Point and is inducted into the American Furniture Hall of Fame. (C-6, 8)


1870s Phoenix Furniture Co., in Grand Rapids, begins producing parlor seating furniture for the middle and upper-middle market. Parlor suites typically included a man??s chair, woman??s chair, four smaller chairs and a sofa.(L-9, 10)


1871 Captain William Henry Snow, a former Union Army officer, moves to High Point, N.C., where he establishes a business making wood shuttle blocks and bobbins. In time, it becomes the world??s largest producer of these items. In 1880, Captain Snow??s son, Ernest Ansel Snow, forms the Snow Lumber Co. in High Point, a firm still in existence today. (A-51)


1873 George Darsey and John Foster open a general store in Grapeland, Texas, selling furniture, groceries and farm equipment. Darsey buys out his partner??s interest in 1886. Over the years, Darsey??s endures fires and tornados but remains in operation today under the direction of Charley H. and Tonya Darsey. (C-126, 127)


Isaac Scott moves to Chicago. During the 1870s and 1880s, he designs and builds some of the best furniture of the Eastlake style, a less florid form of the Neo-Gothic style originated by Britain??s Charles Locke Eastlake. (I-266, 94)


1876 Berkey & Gay Furniture Co., Nelson, Matter & Co. and Phoenix Furniture Co. exhibit large bedroom suites at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. All three Grand-Rapids-based companies win awards, signaling that machine-assisted furniture production had matured. (L-33)


1878 The first official Grand Rapids Furniture Market is held. By the summer of 1881, furniture firms from New York, Ohio, Indiana and Missouri are exhibiting in Grand Rapids. Considerable effort is made to attract buyers to the market, including highly personalized entertainment in the homes and clubs of Grand Rapids manufacturers. (A-45)


1877 William Widdicomb issues what is considered to be the first illustrated furniture product catalog. Another selling technique introduced by Grand Rapids?? manufacturers involves the chartering of railroad cars to transport furniture from town to town, along with salesmen and other company representatives. (A-45)


Late 1870s Leading Grand Rapids manufacturers begin leasing display space in large Eastern cities to show their product to prospective buyers. During that same period, buyers begin traveling to Grand Rapids in increasing numbers. The pilgrimage eventually grows into a semiannual furniture market, first formalized in 1878. During the 1880s, several local and out-of-state lines are shown in hotel lobbies and mezzanines, lofts, basements, vacant stores and even in the Owashtonong Club, a local boating club on nearby Reed??s Lake. (A-45, 184)


1878 Charles Buss moves his machine shop business to Grand Rapids to serve the growing base of furniture manufacturers in the area. Once re-established, Buss expands the variety of machines he offers, until the company could contract to supply the entire machinery needs of factories, which it did into the 1950s. (L-27)


1879 Stow & Davis starts operations as a producer of high-quality kitchen and dining tables. Toward the end of the 19th century, noticing that the company??s tables are being used in offices, Stow & Davis develops a line of Director??s Tables for board rooms and conference rooms. Soon after, the company begins to make lines of bank and office furniture and, in 1917, concentrates its production on matched office suites. In 1928, it introduces the industry??s first desk with a steel structural framework and wood surfaces. (D-310)


1880 After many furniture producers?? are forced to halt output due to the Civil War, activity resumes and by 1880s there are 15 furniture manufacturing firms in Kent County in and around Grand Rapids, employing more than 2,000 workers and producing more than  $2 million annually. In the next decade, the number of area furniture factories doubles to 31 with annual sales of  $5.5 million and employment of more than 4,000 persons. (A-44)


New York and Pennsylvania are the top two furniture-making states with 849 and 718 furniture-making establishments, respectively, representing nearly one-third of the 5,227 plants and shops in the country. The combined yearly output of these two states is nearly one-third of the nation??s annual production of more than  $77.5 million. (F-8)


In spite of tremendous potential because of vast stands of virgin hardwoods, the South??s production in 1880 is ?°unimpressive.?± Scattered over nine states of the South are 419 cabinet shops representing just over  $1 million in investments. Annual output is  $2.1 million. The five top-ranking states in terms of number of shops are Virginia with 125, Tennessee with 92, Texas with 45, Georgia with 43 and North Carolina with 42. (F-10, 11)


North Carolina ranks 36th among the nation??s 39 states in furniture production. There are no furniture factories ¨C only small cabinet shops with a total employment of 85 people producing less than  $75,000 worth of goods annually. In two decades, however, North Carolina goes on to become an important furniture-producing state, with High Point referred to as ?°The Grand Rapids of the South.?± (A-49)


Charles A. Hoitt starts Hoitt??s Furniture in Manchester, N.H., one of the largest textile centers in the world at the time with nearby rail service. Eventually, Carl Long acquires the company and his descendants continue to operate the store today. (C-119, 120)


The Census Bureau notes that furniture production activity is increasing in the West. It notes that ?°a number of western states have attained great success?± and that Chicago, Cincinnati and Grand Rapids are among the new centers of furniture manufacturing. (F-9)


Charles Sligh founds Sligh Furniture Co., after working for Betkey & Gay as a finisher and traveling salesman since 1874. In 1883, Sligh travels to Central America and establishes the Honduras Mahogany CO., which purchases mahogany timber in Honduras, cuts it in New Orleans and ships it to Grand Rapids for furniture production. (L-210)


1880s The Prairie School, a group of architects and designers centered around Chicago, begins creating furniture derived from the British Arts and Crafts design movement, as disseminated in American in the writings of Eastlake and Talbert. The most important members of the group, in terms of furniture design, were Frank Lloyd Wright, George Grant Elmslie and George Washington Maher. Prairier School furniture tends to be simple and rectilinear in form, with an emphasis on the vertical. Decoration is typically bold, though simple and well integrated into the piece, and is consistently employed in all the pieces in any group, creating a thematic unity. (I-229)


1881 With a combined savings of  $275, David White and his brother, William, begin producing furniture in Mebane, N.C. In 1896, the factory incorporates as the White-Rickel Furniture Co. When new partner A.J. Rickel leaves the company in 1899, the name is changed to White Furniture Co. Capacity of the plant in this time period is 300 beds and 50 ?°chamber suites?± per week. (F-13)


1885 A second North Carolina furniture factory ¨C Elliott and Marsh ¨C is established in Charlotte. The company becomes one of the first southern firms to exhibit in northern markets, showing in January of 1896 at the 10th semiannual American Manufacturers Exposition in New York CIty. The company closes in 1899 because of financial difficulties. (A-49)


Brothers John and Warren Broom open the J.E. Broom Outfitting Co., a retail furniture store in Efffingham, Ill. The company is renamed W.S. Broom & Co. in 1893 when Warren buys out his partner??s interest. The business continues to operate in a 40,000-square-foot store near its original site. (C-120)


J.J. Haverty opens a store in downtown Atlanta. The business goes public in 1929, shortly before the Wall Street Crash. Today, the company operates more than 100 stores in 17 states. (C-122 and company Web site)


With popular hardwoods becoming more scarce and expensive, inventor A. Harry Sherwood establishes the Grand Rapids Panel Co. and devises a system by which inexpensive and available pine could be stained, then mechanically grained to look like almost any wood. (L-57)


1887 Goldsboro Furniture Manufacturing Co., the first incorporated furniture plant in North Carolina, opens. Backers include Royal and Borden, a local mattress manufacturing business, and 17 other firms and individuals. By 1902, company employs 100 workers, selling 22 lines of suites, 20 dressers and chiffoniers. (F-14, 15)


Joseph Binks of Binks Manufacturing Co. invents a cold-water spraying machine for applying whitewash. In 1893, the technique is used to whitewash most of the buildings constructed for the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, earning the event??s sobriquet, ?°The White City.?± The technique has a major impact on furniture and automotive production. (D-91)


1888 George Montgomery opens Montgomery??s Furniture in Dakota Territory. The fourth generation of the family continues the business today with three stores. (C-126 and company Web site)


1889 Three more North Carolina furniture factories open ¨C the Alberta Chair Works in Ramseur, which operated for 19 years before being dissolved in 1908; Avery and Erwin in Asheville, which last eight years; and the Lenoir Furniture Co. in Lenoir, which operated for 11 years before being reorganized as the Harper Furniture Co. (A-49-50)


Philip Klingman leases a complete floor of the new Blodgett Building in Grand Rapids. The building goes on to become a complete furniture exhibition building, the first in America. Ten years later, Klingman is instrumental in the erection of the Waters Building, for many years the largest furniture display building in America. (A-184-185)


A number of New York furniture producers meet to discuss the possibility of organizing a furniture exhibition in New York City. They form the Merchants and Manufacturers Assn., and the first furniture exhibition in New York is held in the summer of 1891 in the American Institute Building on Second Avenue. The rules prohibit the admission of women and the display of prison goods. The success of this first show leads to a second showing in January 1892 in larger quarters in the New York Industrial Building. For the next three years, markets are held regularly at that location, in January and July. (A-185)


Lumberman Ernest Ansel Snow teams up with John Tate, the son of a cabinetmaker, and Thomas F. Wrenn, an ancestor of the famous English architect Christopher Wrenn, to establish the High Point Furniture Co. The company ships its first piece, an office desk, by July. Its success inspires others to get into the business. The industry grows thanks to a ready supply of good hardwood timber and regional consumer demand for inexpensive furniture. In 1899, Wrenn??s brother, Manlif J. ?°Bud?± Wrenn buys out the last outstanding shares in the company. The High Point Furniture Co. becomes one of the largest producers of bedroom furniture in the South as Bud Wrenn applies the techniques of mass production to furniture making. (A-51, B and F-37)


A group of men in Lenoir, N.C., including J.M. Bernhardt and G.W.F. Harper, organizes the first furniture factory in Caldwell County, N.C., and one of the first half dozen in the state ¨C the Lenoir Furniture Co. The factory begins operations in February 1890 but shuts down in1891 due to mounting debt. After a series of fits and starts, the operation is purchased in 1899 by the Harper and Bernhardt families and reopened in 1900 as the Harper Furniture Co. In 1929, the company is absorbed into the Broyhill chain of factories. (A-60-64 and F-80)


The King Carving Machine Co. opens in Grand Rapids. The company has a profound impact on the entire furniture industry with its King Four Spindle Carver, which allows manufacturers to create multiple carved pieces simultaneously, with only one machine operator tracing a hand-carved piece with a stylus. (L-27)


Kindle Bedding Co. is founded in Denver. In 1912, the company moves to Grand Rapids and is renamed Kindel Bed Co. In 1915, the company patents an improved convertible bed, known as the Kindel Parlor Bed. The company continues to operate today as a producer of reproduction-quality case goods and upholstery, including the Mount Vernon collection. (L-174, M)


Late 1880s As the South emerges from the difficult decade of Reconstruction, the region begins to industrialize. Mechanized agricultural equipment releases a large number of field hands from the farm and forces them to seek employment in the city, where they find it necessary to build and furnish new dwellings. A new market for furniture is established, albeit a cheap one. (A-49)


1890-1900 The number of furniture factories in the United States increases by 235 over the next 10 years. The greatest increase, 43 new plants, takes place in Wisconsin. Pennsylvania is second with 40 new plants, followed by North Carolina with 38. The South accounts for 55 new plants, or 16% of facilities added, during the decade. North Carolina??s 38 new plants accounts for 69% of the South??s total. By the turn of the century, there is a perceptible shift southward in American furniture manufacturing. (F-65)


Phoenix Furniture Co. designer David Wolcott Kendall finds a way to use a plentiful but not particularly popular hardwood, oak, by developing new finishes that are pleasing to the eye. One folklorish tale suggests that he developed his ?°antique oak?± stain after noticing how furniture workers?? tobacco spit brought out the wood grain and a pleasing golden brown tone in the factory floor, when it missed the spittoons. Kendall eventually sets up an entire chemistry laboratory in the basement of the Phoenix factory in Grand Rapids, to replicate this effect and to experiment with other methods. (L-57)


1890 Furniture-making has become Grand Rapids?? most important industry. Business optimism abounds, and in this decade three new factories are built in the area. The first decade of the 20th century accounts for 20 more. In 1890, Grand Rapids has 31 furniture-making plants and an annual output of  $5.6 million. (A-45-46 and F-9)


With local forests becoming rapidly depleted in the North, furniture manufacturers begin to look elsewhere for their lumber supplies. At the time, North Carolina has only a total of six furniture-producing companies in operation with a combined output of only  $150,000 but that soon changes. (A-45-46).


During the 1890s, 13 furniture factories are established in High Point. Twenty-two men, representing a cross section of High Point??s business and professional leadership, are largely responsible for laying the foundation of the new furniture manufacturing center. The total capitalization of the 12 companies still in operation in 1900 is about  $200,000. The plants turn out a variety of inexpensive lines of wooden household furnishings. Most of the output is marketed in the Southeast but some companies begin selling to the North and Midwest before 1900. In 1898, the Southern Railway reports that an average of eight carloads of furniture a day are being shipped out of High Point. By 1900, High Point is the leading furniture manufacturing center in the South. Factors contributing to its growth include a large pool of cheap labor, ample supplies of hardwood timber and accessible transportation. (F-45-47)


During the 1890s, furniture plants also are established in eastern North Carolina in Dunn, Kinston and Williamston, as well as Sanford. The greatest concentration of furniture factories occurs in the hardwood-laden Piedmont and mountain sections of the state. The 15 principal railroad companies serving this area are consolidated in the early 1890s to form a segment of the Southern Railway Co. Through its industrial development program, the railroad becomes a significant force behind the establishment of furniture factories in North Carolina and other areas of the South. Over a dozen new North Carolina furniture towns, including High Point, are located along the lines of Southern Railway with six years of the company??s formation in 1894. (F-58)


Cook, Baker & Co., a manufacturer of bookcases, buffets, china cabinets and desks, is founded in Allegan, Mich. In 1903, the company changes its name to Baker & Co. Today, it operates as Baker Furniture, a subsidiary of Kohler Co. In 1990, Baker becomes the licensed manufacturer of the furniture line from Colonial Williamsburg. (L-126-127)


1891 The leading factory owners of the East form the American Furniture Manufacturers Exposition Assn. with headquarters in New York. The group begins to hold furniture markets in January and July and continues holding them twice a year until January 1896. (F-95)


Chicago holds its furniture market in two buildings at 1319 and 1411 S. Michigan Ave. (A-187)


1894 One of the first pieces of Arts and Crafts furniture is built in America. Designed by David Kendall of Phoenix Furniture Co., the oak chair features a simple, comfortable silhouette with a curved front apron, cane back and seat and wide armrest. It becomes known as the McKinley Chair, after President William McKinley, and remains in production for 30 years. (D- 240)


1895 The final exposition is held in New York City under the auspices of the Merchants and Manufacturers Assn. The show falls victim to in-fighting among industry members about the selling of samples and unpaid bills by retailers. A new show called the New York Furniture Exchange is organized at the New York Industrial Building by the New York Furniture Board of Trade. (A-186)


A merchant, P.H. Morris, organizes the Asheboro Furniture Co. in Asheboro, N.C., with  $15,000 in capital. The factory ¨C two 2-story buildings ¨C employs 40 workers, building chiffoniers for the North. (F-63)


Elbert Hubbard establishes the Roycroft Shop of manufacturing workshops in East Aurora, N.Y. Inspired by the design ideas of William Morris, the shop produces Arts and Crafts-style furniture. Like Gustav??s Stickley??s work, Roycrofter furniture becomes known as Mission furniture. (H-361, I-258)


1896 R.F. Dalton, J.J. Cox and W.H. Ragan form the Southern Chair Co. in February with  $25,000 in capital. Using the ?°best chair-making machinery?± of the time, the plant is producing chairs a day within 2 1/2 years. The plant employs 85 workers. (F-38)


Klingman??s opens a store in Grand Rapids to take advantage of the city??s reputation as a key destination for furniture. At its peak, the store operates in a 600,000-square-foot, five-story building that includes warehousing. Over the years, the business changes ownership several times. It is now owned by the Israels family and has a new store in Wyoming, Mich. (C-127-128 and company Web site)


The Stock List begins publication. The Lumber Buyers Publishing Co., producer of Hardwood Buyers Guide, which launches in 1922, traces its roots back to The Stock List (it??s unclear whether Stock List was acquired or evolved into the Hardwood Buyers Guide). Over the years, the Hardwood Buyers Guide and a number of other wood business-related magazine titles are acquired or absorbed into what is today Wood & Wood Products, part of Vance Publishing. (D-36)


Two rival companies launch furniture expositions a few blocks away from each other in Chicago ¨C one in the Manufacturers?? Building and the other in the Studebaker Building. Five year later, a new Manufacturers?? Exhibition Building is constructed. This  $500,000 building with 300,000 square feet of display space is hailed by furniture leaders as the largest and finest exposition building in the world. The first exhibition is held in 1902. (F-98)


The Globe Furniture Co. is organized with the highest capitalization to date in High Point. The two principals are Jonathan Elwood Cox and Dr. WIlliam Gaston Bradshaw. The company is the first furniture producer in North Carolina organized specifically to cater to Northern markets. After two years in business, it begins selling to stores in the South as well. In 1898, the factory employs 85 workers with a capacity of 1,000 bedroom suites a month. (F-39-42)


Two new factories spring up in Marion, N.C., taking advantage of the large stands of oak and poplar and nearby rail connections. The Catawba Furniture Co. is organized by Thomas Wrenn and Henry Fraser, producing chamber suites, wardrobes, dressers and chiffoniers. The second company, Marion Furniture Co., is organized by D.R. Fraper. The plant employs 40 workers making oak and poplar chamber suites, dressers and beds for Southern markets. (F-64)


1897 Hugh Kochtitzky, son of a Hungarian freedom fighter, helps establish the Mount Airy Furniture Co. in Mount Airy, N.C. (F-84)


Widdicomb Mantel Co. reincorporates as John Widdicomb Co., producing bedroom suites and kitchen cabinets. In 1924, Ralph Widdicomb designs the first French Provincial line of furniture in the United States, based on examples collected in Europe. Today, the John Widdicomb collection of reproduction-quality furnishings is part of L. & J.G Stickley. (L-229, N)


1898 Brothers Frank and John W. Lambeth pool their resources with a group of Thomasville, N.C., citizens and organize the town??s first modern chair company, Standard Chair Co., with  $4,000 in capital. Initially producing split seat chairs and rockers, the business grows and eventually absorbs several other smaller Thomasville plants to become one of the town??s leading chair-making establishments. (F-61, 62)


Winston Furniture Co. is founded with a  $30,000 investment in Winston-Salem, N.C. Principals include C.W. Prentiss, an experienced furniture man from Pennsylvania. A producer of chamber suites, chiffoniers and dressers, Winston is the first Southern furniture factory to market veneered casework in the North. (F-61, 62)


Old Hickory Chair Co. is founded in Indiana. It specializes in producing Adirondack-style furniture, named because of its popularity among the owners and furnishers of camps, resorts and summer residences in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. This furniture was composed of round, unmilled hickory sticks, often with the bark left on, arranged in simple designs from country models. This style is produced until the 1940s. (I-3)


Late 1890s to early 1900s The adoption of trademarks and brand names by some Grand Rapids furniture makers places them at the forefront of this revolution in American business. Before the 1890s, few Grand Rapids companies consistently placed trademarks on their furniture. Some pieces had company names stenciled or burn-marked in generic lettering. Other pieces were labeled, but only for shipping purposes. In the late 1890s and early 1900s, companies such as Stickley Bros., Charles P. Limbert, Macey, Michigan Chair, Berkey & Gay and Grand Rapids Bookcase & Chair begin to register and use trademarks consistently in their advertising and labeling. (L-68)


1899 Members of the Furniture Manufacturers Assn. in Grand Rapids begin applying a ?°Grand Rapids Made?± logo, a red triangular trademark, to every piece of furniture made by an FMA member company. Its appearance is meant as an assurance of quality and an authentication that the piece originated in Grand Rapids. This practice continues until 1913. (L-69)


1900 The Boston manufacturer Irving & Casson & Davenport creates a boxy, upholstered American sofa type that becomes known as the davenport. (I-79)


Samuel Karpen of Chicago??s S. Karpen Brothers Co. attends the Paris Exposition. Inspired by the fluid, deeply carved designs of Art Nouveau furniture, his company produces some of the finest American versions of the style. (I-159)


William Murphy files for his first patent on a folding wall bed and forms the Murphy Wall Bed Co. in San Francisco. Today, the company is one of the oldest furniture companies in the United States, with more than a century of continuous manufacturing and marketing. (K)


The Grand Rapids Furniture Record begins publishing. Large format, glossy paper, handsome design and layout, well-printed photographs and color covers made the Record superior to most competing journals. (L-16)


John Widdicomb Co. and Grand Rapids in general gain much publicity over the first prize awarded to its Empire Revival mahogany bedroom suite at the Paris Exposition of 1900. (L-59)


Century Furniture Co. is founded. Rather than relying on high-volume sales of inexpensive pieces, Century maintains an extensive catalog of designs that are produced in small batches as orders come in. This allows for greater customization of cosmetic details such as finishes and upholstery materials. (L-5)


1900-10 By 1900, North Carolina has 44 furniture manufacturing companies, producing more than  $1.5 million worth of goods annually. The number of North Carolina furniture companies doubles over the next 10 years and output grows from  $1.5 million to  $8.5 million. Most of North Carolina??s furniture factories are built in an 18-county area stretching 185 miles from Alamance in the center of the state to Haywood in the mountains. Scattered over these counties in an area 50 to 75 miles wide are a dozen towns that become recognized as furniture-making centers. (A-52, B and F-66)


Sidney Tomlinson and Julian Carr organize a  $15,000 plant in High Point, assembling chairs from parts shipped down from New England factories. in 1901, the firm expands its production facilities. By 1903, the plant is shipping chairs throughout the country and to Mexico and Cuba. In 1904, brother Charles Tomlinson joins the company. Under his leadership, the company becomes a pioneer in the field of furniture manufacturing and gains national recognition. (F-69)


Statesville Furniture opens in Statesville, N.C., selling most of its output to a Chicago mail order company. (F-110)


Gustav Stickley introduces a new line of Arts and Crafts-influenced furniture at the Grand Rapids furniture exhibition in June. This line features plain oak boards constructed in a simple fashion. The next year, he creates a monthly magazine called the Craftsman as a forum for views on current movements in art and architecture as well as a promotional vehicle for his furniture. For a few years, Stickley offers furniture from other designers such as Harvey Ellis under the United Crafts label, but the semi-cooperative scheme is dropped in 1904. The Stickley empire continues to expand until 1913, when he overreaches by buying a large showroom and office building in New York City. By this time, the fortunes of the Arts and Crafts movement are already declining and Stickley??s firm goes bankrupt in April 1915. (G-158)


Furniture retailers in the South offer installment plan credit programs to their customers, expanding their markets with lower-income groups. At the same time, second-hand furniture stores spring up to sell furniture reclaimed from consumers unable to keep up with their installment payments. (F-113)


1901 J.J. Farriss, editor of the High Point Enterprise, launches the Southern Furniture Journal, a monthly trade magazine and advocate for Southern industry. The publication continues to operate for 30 years. (F-233-234)


Thirty-five area furniture manufacturers meet in the High Point mayor??s office to discuss creating a Southern Furniture Exposition. Their goal is to compete with established markets in New York, Chicago and Grand Rapids. (B)


In January, a group of 13 men form Dixie Furniture Co. in Lexington, N.C. The company survives two early disasters ¨C a building collapse and a fire ¨C and goes on to become one of the largest plants in North Carolina and part of Lexington Furniture.


In November, Fred Tate launches Continental Furniture Co. in High Point. Within one year, the company becomes one of the town??s largest operations, employing 100. Tate runs the company until his death in 1945 and serves four terms as mayor of High Point. He also takes a leadership role in the North Carolina furniture industry??s fight for more favorable freight rates. His success in the struggle contributes to the state??s rise to national prominence in furniture manufacturing. (F-73, 74)


The Lambeth family launches Standard Chair Co. in Thomasville, N.C. The firm acquires two other local companies in 1907 ¨C Cates Chair Co. and Thompson Chair Co. This moves makes Standard one of the state??s most complete chair factories, capable of daily output of 1,500 chairs. The company enhances Thomasville??s claim to the distinction, ?°the chair town of the South.?± (F-75)


In Hickory, N.C., Hickory Furniture Co. is launched, followed by Martin Furniture in 1902. Both companies operate independently until 1931, when they are acquired by Hickory Chair Co. (F-81, 82)


Alfred Smith, a tobacco manufacturer, launches National Furniture Co. in Mount Airy, N.C., employing 65 men and marketing  $3 chiffoniers in northern retail stores. (F-84)


Two of High Point??s earliest furniture companies come together to form the Globe-Home Furniture Co., the third-largest furniture producer in the South. The new company operates three plants, employing 300 men. Its assortment of case goods and upholstery is the best known in the South. (F-141-142)


1902 Ten High Point industrialists pledge  $1,000 each to the creation of a Southern furniture exposition. (B)


J.D. Bassett Sr., then operating a small sawmill operation in Virginia, starts a furniture plant as a way to expand his business. (A-69)


Charles Wolf and his partner John Fox open City Furniture Co. in Altoona, Pa. In 1915, Wolf buys out Fox??s interest. In 1918, he opens a new store in a five-story building. In the 1920s, George A. and Herbert Wolf, oldest sons of the founder, develop a partnership that lasts for 50 years. In the 1940s, the brothers open 10 new stores within a 100-mile radius of Altoona. In the 1970s, the company grows to 27 stores in three states and then, in 1992, it sells 14 stores to Heilig-Meyers Co. Today, Wolf Furniture operates 12 stores in Pennsylvania and Maryland. (C-128, 129, 130 and company Web site)


The Furniture Association of the United States, a trade group of Northern manufacturers formed in the 1890s to control price-cutting and lessen competition among member companies, meets to enlarge membership of its pool to include Southern manufacturers. An agreement calls for the creation of a group of Southern furniture manufacturers known as the Loring pool to eventually be merged with the national group. As part of this agreement, it is envisioned that Southerners would limit their future production to the 1901 output and keep prices at a designated level. A number of larger producers in the South sign on but producers in North Carolina are not able to reach agreement on joining the national organization. Instead, a major meeting of North Carolina industry leaders is held to set minimum pricing on certain grades of furniture on a state level. But support for the national agreement never occurs. As a result, North Carolina producers keep a level of business independence they otherwise might not have had, retaining a higher degree of competitiveness and avoiding likely consolidation. (F-148-176)


1903 Samuel Huffman and D.B. Mull, operators of a sawmill operation, create a furniture company called Drexel, named after their hometown. The plant employs 50 workers, producing oak dressers, wash stands and chiffoniers. Despite several fires in the early years, the factory steadily grows. In time, the name Drexel comes to symbolize manufactured furniture of high quality. (A-79-70 and F-82-83)


The Wysong and Miles furniture machinery-making plant is established in Greensboro, N.C., lowering the cost of operation in the state. Few developments contribute more to the long-range growth of North Carolina??s furniture industry. (F-400)


The Public LIbrary in Grand Rapids creates a major reference library for students of all aspects of furniture. Attention to the scholarly study of furniture was a key component in Grand Rapids?? strategy to establish itself as ?°a leading educational center for all matters pertaining to good furniture.?± (L-17)


1904 Tomlinson Chair Manufacturing Co. becomes one of the first furniture companies to employ its own team of salesmen to market its products. Starting with four salesmen in 1904, it grows the team to 35 men in locations all over the South, from Richmond to Dallas, by 1909. Increasing competition and the inability to secure good staff salesmen leads other companies to employ commissioned sales representatives, who sell furniture for a variety of different clients. (F-106)


1905 An organization of manufacturers, known as the North Carolina Case Workers Assn., is formed in Greensboro in 1905 to represent the interest of N.C. furniture manufacturers in freight rate cases before the Interstate Commerce Commission. The group operates for six years, working closely with the North Carolina Chair Assn., also formed in 1905 The two groups jointly maintain a traffic bureau that helps secure better rail facilities at lower rates. They also reach some agreements on wholesale prices and marketing arrangements. (A-53 and F-186, 332)


High Point furniture salesman D. Ralph Parker announces the formation of the High Point Furniture Exposition Co., with plans to use 2,000 square feet on the second floor of the Maddox Building as showroom space. A half dozen High Point furniture manufacturers hold a joint display in their home city. A year later, the event grows to include 25 manufacturers. By 1913, the High Point Furniture Exposition has grown to the point where it is attracting manufacturers from throughout the South. (A-54 and B)


Tom Broyhill obtains a 4 percent stake in the Kent Furniture and Coffin Co. In 1912, with the company facing bankrupcty, he increases that stake to become majority shareholder. The company??s name is changed to Lenoir Furniture Co. (A-65, 70-71)


G.C. Witt and Connie Jones open Witt & Jones in Waco, Texas. The business survives the Great Depression and the Waco tornado, although the tornado destroys the company??s buildings and forces a move to a new location. In 1969, the company p

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