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Original Adirondack Chair

History of the Adirondack Chair

The most famous of the outdoor chairs is the Adirondack chair. The Adirondack chair (or Westport , Muskoka, or Cape Cod chair) is a type of wooden chair favored in rural, outdoor settings.

The precursor to today's Adirondack chair was the Westport Plank Chair designed by Thomas Lee in 1903. Thomas Lee was on vacation in Westport , New York , in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains , and needed outdoor chairs for his summer home. He tested the first designs on his family.

The original Adirondack chair was made with eleven pieces of wood, cut from a single board. It had a straight back and seat, which were set at a slant to sit better on the steep mountain inclines of the area. It also featured wide armrests, which became a hallmark of the Adirondack chair.

After arriving at a final design for the " Westport plank chair," Lee offered it to Harry Bunnell, a carpenter friend in Westport , who was in need of a winter income. Bunnell quickly realized the chair was the perfect item to sell to Westport 's summer residents, and apparently without asking Lee's permission, Bunnell filed for and received patent 794,777 in 1905. Bunnell manufactured his plank chairs for the next twenty years. His "Westport Chairs" were all signed and made of hemlock in green or medium dark brown. The modern name refers to the Adirondack Mountains, which Westport is near.

As the style became popular many individuals took this basic design and incorporated it in to their own stylized chairs. These spin offs of the traditional Adirondack chair design include:

  • Muskoka chairs
  • Cape Cod Chair
  • Westport Chair
  • Laurentienne Chair
  • Capri Chair
  • Colorado Chair
  • Victoria Chair
  • And many other names…

Today's Adirondack chairs usually feature a rounded back and contoured seat. In addition the chairs have been modified so that they are just as comfortable on level ground (not just on slanted mountain sides). The style has also been translated to other pieces of furniture, from gliders to love seats.

Adirondacking is a term used in the southern U.S. to describe public picnics at which people sit primarily in Adirondack chairs. It is also used to describe using public Adirondack-chair displays outside home-improvement and grocery stores as a leisure break while shopping.

Today`s Adirondack chair has become iconic as the image of relaxed outdoor living.

Click here to return to our Adirondack Chair Catalog

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