Table of Contents


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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 – 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 – distinguished by simple lines, clean forms and lack of ornamentation – 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 – 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 – 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 – Elliott and Marsh – 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 – 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 – 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 – two 2-story buildings – 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 – 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 – a building collapse and a fire – 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 – 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 purchases Waco’s oldest furniture store, Kirkpatrick’s, and consolidates its business in one location under the name of Kirkpatrick & Witt. C-136, 138)

C.A. Julian, G.A. Allison, Frank Lambeth and John Cramer form Thomasville Chair Co. with an investment of $10,000. The new factory quickly reaches an output of 180 chairs a day with annual sales of $150,000. In 1907, Thomas Finch acquires the company and folds it into what later becomes Thomasville Furniture. (F-76)

Herman Miller begins operations as a producer of traditional furniture. In 1929, it hires designer Gilbert Rohde. His designs, inspired by the Bauhaus school of architecture, have a huge influence on the company. He contributes the concept of sectional or unit furniture to Herman Miller, an industry first. Rohde also is associated with the advent of modern industrial design in America. (D-302, I-253)

Legislation is approved that allows one company or organization to sue another for infringement upon its trademark or brand name. In order for a trademark to provide evidence of ownership for a particular product, it had to be attached in some visible way (such as a tag, label or decal) and incorporate original and consistent lettering and designs to make it unique. (L-68)

1906 Globe-Parlor Furniture Co. launches in High Point in January. S.H. Tomlinson is the first president. (F-74)

The New York Industrial Building, also known as the Grand Central Palace, is torn down to make room for train tracks on Park Avenue. A new venue for the New York Furniture Exchange show is built on Lexington Avenue. The new 500,000-square-foot Grand Central Palace holds its first furniture exhibition in June. Markets continue there until late in World War I, when the building is taken over by the government for use as a hospital for soldiers wounded in the European conflict. (A-186)

J.M. Bernhardt acquires the Moore Furniture Co., now located at the present site of the Bernhardt Furniture Co. That same year, the forerunner of the Fairfield Chair Co. is established under the name of Blue Ridge Bobbin and Handle Co.(A-67-68)

The Furniture Manufacturers’ Exposition Co., a rival to D. Ralph Parker’s exhibition enterprise in High Point, is chartered and announces plans to use 10,000 square feet on the third floor of the Ragan and Mills Building as its display area. (B)

Marsh Furniture Co. launches in High Point in the late summer. J.E. Marsh, J.W. Harris and J.J. Welch are the principals. (F-74)

Myer Nathan Goldstein establishes his first store in Sharon, Pa. Myer dies in 1921, and his children Louis and Sadye, along with Sadye’s husband Rudolph Goldstone, take over the business. Today, the company operates four stores in Ohio and Pennsylvania under the direction of the Goldstone family. (C-138)

The Lambeth family, owners of Lambeth Chair Co., buy controlling interest in the Cates Chair Co., Standard Chair Co. and Thompson Chair Co. With a production capacity of 1,500 chairs per day, this newly consolidated firm is from its beginning one of the largest chair factories in the South. (F-140-141)

1907 Thomas Jefferson Finch, an ex-sheriff of Davidson County in North Carolina, obtains stock in Allison Chair Co. in exchange for overdue debt on some lumber. Finch and his brother, Charles, eventually buy the company. Then, in 1925, Thomas Jefferson Finch buys out his brother’s interest and founds the family dynasty that grows into Thomasville Furniture Inds. (A-68)

Michigan’s Sligh Furniture builds one of the industry’s first modern bedroom suites, inspired by the Austrian School of Design of the early 20th century. (A-150)

Finley Coffey and Alfred Kent launch the Kent-Coffey Furniture Co. in Lenoir, N.C. Capitalized at $50,000, this venture is profitable from the outset. (F-80, 81)

Economic conditions take a serious downturn in the Panic of 1907. Both commodity and securities prices drop sharply. About 20 North Carolina factories, or 10% of the state’s industry, close during the downturn, which lasts until the summer of 1908. (F-119-121)

Jamestown, Va., holds a special eight-month exhibition to celebrates its 300th anniversary. High Point manufacturers send five carloads of furniture for the town’s individual display, receiving a gold medal for their efforts. This marks the area’s first national recognition as an industry of rising significance. (F-102)

1907-1909 Charles Sumner Greene and his brother Henry Mather Greene of the design firm Greene & Greene create their most important work – four great California houses filled with Arts and Crafts furniture of their design. Their furniture is clean-lined, simple and rectilinear in form and with traditional joinery. (I-131)

1908 Frank Rose, Lewis Rupp and brothers Albert and Edward Rupp start the Rupp & Rupp furniture store in Archbold, Ohio. In 1910, the Rupp brothers and another brother, Peter, take over the business and change the name to Rupp Furniture & Undertaking, offering furniture and embalming services. In 1930, the store changes its name and focus to Rupp Furniture Co. Over the years, the company opens many stores in Ohio. Today, the Rupp family operates two stores as Rupp Furniture & Carpet Co. (C-138, 140)

It is observed that by this year, at least 12,000 U.S. furniture stores are handling pieces from North Carolina factories. Product also is being shipped to Cuba, Europe and South Africa. (F-116)

Believing that his creations would become heirlooms, Tom Handley’s Johnson-Handley-Johnson Co. becomes one of the first furniture companies to place a decal of the designer’s signature onto each piece it manufactures. (l-63)

1909 The two rival High Point exposition companies join forces and announce the first formal Southern Furniture Market. The first Southern Furniture Market opens on March 1. Attendance is moderate, with buyers coming mostly from within North Carolina and neighboring states. Two buyers make the long trek from the West Coast. The second market is held during June and July. Attendance improves over the first event but is not enough to encourage the establishment of a regular biannual market; exhibitors adopt a once-a-year schedule. (B)

Tomlinson Chair Manufacturing Co. introduces package car express delivery service, or the mixed carload. Rather than make individual shipments, the factory arranges to fill all orders from a given section of the country by packing goods in train cars destined for a centrally located point in the area. The High Point firm is also the first company in the South and among the first in the nation to turn out dining and living room suites on a mass production basis. Other innovations include a bonus system based on production efficiency and quality and group life insurance Philadelphia Pa for employees. (F-283-285)

1910 There are now 54 furniture factories in Grand Rapids, employing more than 7,000 workers. By 1920, there are 71 area furniture factories in operation, producing more than $50 million worth of goods annually. (A-46)

In this first decade of the new century, more than 250 furniture-producing companies are formed in North Carolina. The state’s furniture output is double that of any other southern state. (A-52)

Moses Brin establishes one of the first companies to produce furniture from parts supplied by other manufacturers. A sales representative, Brin buys parts from Drexel Furniture Co., Caldwell Furniture Co., Myrtle Desk Co. and Standard Chair Co. and ships them to Kansas, where he has a small plant. This method of selling results in considerable freight savings. (F-109)

L.C. Petrie Co. opens a commercial photo studio in High Point to service local manufacturers. By this year, North Carolina furniture manufacturers have easy, inexpensive access to varnishes, stains, dyes, glue, casters, plate glass, mirrors and other supplies needed in the production of household furnishings. (F-286, 399)

1911 The North Carolina Case Workers Assn. evolves into the Southern Furniture Manufacturers Assn., embracing all manufacturers of furniture and associated lines south of the Ohio and east of the Mississippi rivers. In 1912, James Thomas Ryan becomes secretary of the new organization, a post he holds for more than half a century. The principal goal of the group in the early years is the removal of freight rate discrimination hindering Southern producers in their quest for national markets. It also gets involved in issues relating to insurance rates, price stability, cost accounting and Latin American trade. (A-53 and F-334, 360-361)

Trade magazine Southern Furniture Journal calls for the creation of “one large showroom commensurate with the large number of factories and volume of business” conducted by High Point’s growing furniture industry. A decade-long quest to build this large showroom facility begins. (B)

Grand Furniture begins as a piano store in the fast-growing city of Roanoke, Va. In 1945, the Cartledge family buys the store and changes its name to Grand Piano and Furniture Co. In the 1950s, the company begins to expand to other towns and cities in the area. Pianos are phased out of the company’s mix in 1998 and the name is changed to Grand Home Furnishings. Today, Grand operates 17 stores in Virginia, West Virginia and East Tennessee. (C-146)

On April 19, more than 3,000 furniture workers walk off the job in Grand Rapids over a wage and collective bargaining dispute. On April 21, virtually every major furniture plant in Grand Rapids stopped production. Manufacturers then closed ranks and attempted to continue operations with smaller workforces, with some importing strikebreakers. The factory owners outlast the strikers and by the end of August the majority of original workers had returned to their places on the line without any formal concessions by their employers. (L-53-54)

1912 The Interstate Commerce Commission rules in favor of the Southern Furniture Manufacturers Assn. in a case involved discriminatory freight rates. The ruling determines that North Carolina producers should enjoy the same rate for freight as Virginia and New York manufacturers, who previously had an advantage. The decision contributes significantly to the development of North Carolina as a leading furniture source. (A-53)

1912 Tom Broyhill becomes principal owner of a factory that evolves into the Lenoir Furniture Corp. Brother Ed Broyhill joins the company in 1919. The company initially produces individual pieces such as washstands, dressers, chiffoniers, buffets and sideboards. In 1920, it introduces its first bedroom suite and by 1926 progresses to correlated suites. (A-17, 83)

1913 The Southern Furniture Exposition is formed to establish and promote an ongoing, semi-annual market in High Point. Following the tradition established by other markets, events are to be held in January and July. The first Southern Exposition runs from June 26 to July 12. One hundred exhibitors show their wares to approximately 1,000 dealers, making it the largest display of Southern-made furniture ever assembled. Manufacturers’ Record compares it to the great furniture centers of New York, Chicago and Grand Rapids. (B)

White Furniture Co. of Mebane, N.C., becomes one of the first southern plants to be equipped with machinery powered by electric motors. (F-275)

1914 The second Southern Furniture Exposition opens on Jan. 14. Buyers from 14 Eastern and Southern states attend. Southern Furniture Journal reports, “practically all of them spent freely.” (B)

War breaks out in Europe, disrupting international trade. Southern furniture makers suffer from the loss of the overseas cotton market, which causes a steep decline in furniture sales. (B)

Plans for continuing the semi-annual Market are put on hold, as are hopes for a single, large-scale exhibition building. The High Point Marketing Assn. is formed to promote sales of the town’s furniture products. The Association brings buyers to High Point throughout the year, as the semi-annual Exposition lies dormant. (B)

1915 North Carolina furniture factories run overtime to keep up with war orders. As a result, they begin to give more attention to raising their quality standards and nationwide marketing. Fifteen thousand rail cars, most loaded with furniture, ship out of High Point over the course of the year. (B)

The first market in California is held. Called the Western Home Goods Market Week, it takes place on Market Street in San Francisco. In 1920, the tenants of a new building on Montgomery Street form the San Francisco Exchange Assn. It becomes the Western Furniture Exchange and Merchandise Mart and, later, the San Francisco Market Center (D-144).

1916 The Grand Rapids Furniture Market grows to 300 exhibitors occupying a total of eight buildings. (A-46)

1917 The National Federation of Furniture Manufacturers forms a Committee of War Service, pledging to render every aid possible in placing at the government’s disposal the facilities of the industry. The first achievement of the committee is the compilation of items needed for military purposes that could be produced by furniture plants. (F-270)

The Grand Rapids Furniture Designers Assn. is formed. Still active today, it is the oldest group of furniture designers in the nation. (L-62)

1918 Representatives of 60 furniture factories meet in High Point and agree to produce goods urgently needed by the Allies on the Western Front. They turn out wagon beds, wheel spokes and airplane propeller blades for the war effort. In the Summer, 33 furniture industry members participate in the War Services Committee, a group formed to conserve materials and save shipping space. The group issues regulations calling for drastic reductions in the number of product patterns and use of materials. (F-270-271)

World War I ends in the Fall; furniture makers quickly retool for peacetime production. (B)

1918 The New York Furniture Exchange Assn. is formed to revive the semiannual furniture markets in New York City following the war. The first post-war market is held in January 1919, in a vacant building at 440 Lafayette St. Over the next few years, the market is held in several different locations, including the Grand Central Palace, the Siegel-Cooper Building and the Armion Building. (A-187)

1919 T.V. Rochelle is appointed secretary of the High Point Furniture Market Assn., an informal organization to promote High Point as a destination for retailers to buy furniture for their stores. (F-385)

Two years of pent-up consumer demand launch a boom period for furniture- makers. High Point producers benefit from their position as America’s leading makers of medium and low-priced goods. (B)

Leading High Point manufacturers pledge $35,000 to the construction of a large-scale exhibition building. The Committee on Space Requirements recommends a 200,000-square-foot facility. Announcing the plans for the new building, The High Point Enterprise claims, “High Point aspires to become the foremost furniture market on this continent.” A plot of land on South Main Street near the intersection of Commerce Street is purchased for $35,000, to be the site of the new building. Construction begins two months later. (B)

1920s Berkey & Gay pioneers the use of imaginative copywriting to sell furniture. For example, in some ads, copywriters create their own fairy tales about the period and country from which each style originates. These ads help buyers imagine themselves as Henry VIII sitting down to feast at his new banquet table. Other ads use subtle phrases and imagery to appeal directly to consumers’ secret desires or call attention to their worst fears. In 1929, Berkey & Gay takes the concept of selling history quite literally with its limited edition of 100 “Old Ironsides Tables,” featuring some of the original materials removed from the deck of the shop. (L-65-66)

1921 The Southern Furniture Exposition Building opens for its first show on June 20. Built in 19 months, at a cost of about $1 million, it contains 249,000 square feet of exhibition space. Regular shows are held in January and July. Seven hundred buyers from 100 cities across the United States attend the first show in the new building. One hundred forty-nine exhibitors display their wares, generating $2.25 million in total sales. Furniture World proclaims, “the Southern Show will probably excel any market, for it is well known among all furniture dealers that southern factories make a line of furniture that is not duplicated elsewhere and it is peculiarly adapted to the needs of the present times.” Buoyed by the success of the summer event, High Point holds its first “mid-season show” in November. To promote the new building, market directors establish the Southern Furniture Marketing Assn., headed by T.V. Rochelle. (B and G-390)

1922 -1929 The Southern market experiences rapid growth during the Roaring ‘20s, setting new records every year. The number of North Carolina furniture factories grows from 113 to 143 and production increases 33.6%. (B)

1922 Industry insiders first begin referring to the Southern Exposition as “The High Point Market.” Trade magazine Market News heralds the Southern Exposition as a “national institution.” (B)

1924 The Southern Exposition Building sells its last available square foot of exhibit space. (B)

The Grand Rapids Furniture Market boasts more than 500 exhibitors, a record for the event. (A-46)

The New York Furniture Exchange Assn. purchases property on Lexington Avenue between 32nd and 33rd streets for $700,000 to erect a 15-story furniture market building. The first market is held there in March 1926, the year that furniture sales nationally began their decline that culminated in Black Friday of 1929. Still, the New York Furniture Exchange weathers the economic storm of the Great Depression and holds sway as virtually the only wholesale furniture display space in New York City until the National Furniture Mart is built across the street on Lexington Avenue in 1963. (A-187)

The 1.5-million-square-foot American Furniture Mart opens in Chicago. It initially holds two markets a year in January and July and, in 1928, adds a May and October “mid-season” market. The preview serves two purposes: it helps get the “bugs” out of new designs and also generates early orders for new designs. (A-81, 188)

1925 While working in his lab, William Mason accidentally creates a new wood fiber-based material called hardboard. He launches the Masonite company to manufacture and market the product, used in wood-grain panels to intricately cut or molded furniture components. (D-101)

Baker Furniture introduces one of the first American lines of Art Deco Furniture at the 1925 Grand Rapids Furniture Market, a rectinlinear bedroom designed by Josef Urban. (L-84)

1926 Following a fire at the Bernhardt Chair Co., the source for Lenoir Furniture Co.’s chair, rocker and bench products, Ed Broyhill founds the Lenoir Chair Co. to fill this need. He and his brother Tom expand their furniture holdings later expand their holdings with the purchase of Harper Furniture Co. (A-84, 97)

1928 The Merchandise Mart, containing 3 million square feet of display space, is built in Chicago. A portion of the space is used for the American Furniture Mart, bringing its total display space to 1.75 million square feet, the largest concentration of furniture exhibition footage in the United States at the time. (A-188)

The National Home Furnishings Campaign sponsored by the National Retail Furniture Assn. is launched. Its goal is to build awareness of the industry and change the public’s view that furniture, as a durable good, needs replacement only once every 17 years. At the time, only a few furniture brands, such as Berkey & Gay, were identifiable to the consumer. The four-year campaign has a budget of $4 million. (C-40-41)

Edwin Shoemaker and Edward Knabusch create the predecessor to the first La-Z-Boy chair, a reclining lawn chair made out of wood slats, in their garage. They start their Monroe, Mich., company as Kna-Shoe Manufacturing but change it to Floral City Furniture Co. When a buyer for Lions Store in Toledo, Ohio, suggests adding upholstery to the lawn chair for more year-round use, the first La-Z-Boy recliner is born. Far-sighted friends help the entrepreneurs patent their invention. (D-155)

The Kendall School of Design is established in Michigan honor of designer David Kendall. (D-240)

1929 North Carolina ranks as the fifth-largest furniture producing state in America, behind New York, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. (B)

The stock market crashes, sending the U.S. economy into four years of decline and massive unemployment known as the Great Depression. A sharp decrease in new home starts hits the furniture industry especially hard. (B)

1930s American Modern emerges as a popular style. It is characterized by sleek, shiny surfaces, bold shapes with curving elements contrasting with straight lines and a fondness for the look of polished metal contrasted with the color black. It is derived from the two principal European movements of the 1920s – Art Deco and the International style. (I-8)

At the same time, a contemporary style emerges called “borax,” an ornate design with waterfall tops, figured and intricately matched veneers, heavily fluted or reeded posts and fancy mirrors, which saturates the market. (A-151-152).

1931 Furniture production falls to nearly half of its 1929 peak, from $659 million to $350 million. (B)

Furniture makers in the Grand Rapids area are hit particularly hard because of their focus on the luxury end of the market. At the height of the boom, furniture employment and payroll had been almost one-half of the total in Grand Rapids. By 1940, that figure drops to one-sixth. (A-46)

1932 Seeking to combat the decline in sales caused by dire economic conditions, Southern Furniture Exposition President Paul Casey issues a “special invitation” encouraging buyers to come to High Point and view more than 100 exhibits. With nearly 25 percent of the nation’s workers unemployed and housing starts still in decline, however, retailers are in no position to respond. (B)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt is elected president, promising a “New Deal” that will spur an economic turnaround. (B)

1933 Furniture production loses another $100 million. Fully one-third of the furniture makers shut their factories. Despite considerable empty space in the Exposition Building, Furniture South reports Southern makers “stuck to their knitting and kept plugging away, still firm in their belief that the Southern Market was of ranking importance.” General economic recovery begins as the year comes to a close. (B)

The first platen-pressed particleboad plant starts operations in Dubuque, Iowa. (D-98)

Gilbert Rohde’s first designs for Herman Miller debut at the Chicago Century of Progress Exhibition. The pieces were sleek, simple and aerodynamic, with chromium-plated hardware and inlaid horizontal stripes as the only decoration. In his designs for Herman Miller, Rohde was one of the first American designers to combine wood with such industrial materials as steel, chrome, glass, plastic and bakelite. He also invented the concept of the modular sofa, with upholstered sections that could be strung together as a single unit. He is credited with helping bring modernism to the masses. (L-87)

1934 Exhibitors return to the Southern Exposition Building, filling all available space. A “considerable” number of buyers are reported at market. But the Southern furniture industry operates at a loss. (B)

During the mid-1930s to 1940s, buyers begin traveling from the North and Midwest to Southern furniture factories in the spring and fall to shop for close-outs and to preview new patterns to be introduced at the summer and winter markets in Chicago. Buyers travel to the Southern Furniture Exposition Building in High Point and from factory to factory. This eventually leads to the timing of spring and fall for the Southern Furniture Market. (A-189-190).

1935 The New York Sun reports that in comparison to goods seen at the older markets, Southern producers were paying more attention to design. Furniture production increases to $325 million; Southern makers enjoy small profits. (B)

Ed Broyhill installs one of the first overhead monorail finishing conveyers in the southern furniture industry. His company also goes on to become one of the first furniture makers to use the hot-plate press method of glueing up plywood. (A-111-112)

1936 Production rises another 37 percent in 1936; however, as prices of finished goods have declined, the industry gathers only half its 1929 share of dollar. The Southern Exposition Building celebrates its 15th anniversary with record attendance during the July event, with 2,485 buyers shopping 150 exhibits. Furniture South reports that a number of manufacturers put “Sold up” signs in front of their displays; cites an increasingly wide assortment of home furnishings as a critical factor in the recovery. (B)

The city of Grand Rapids and the Exposition Association open the Grand Rapids Furniture Museum in a large Tudor Revival house overlooking downtown. It lasts until 1960, when the local furniture market was in its final years. At that time, almost 500 historical pieces of furniture are transferred to the Grand Rapids Public Museum. (L-78)

1937 From a depth of 93,000 in 1933, housing starts rise to 336,000. North Carolina and Virginia produce 38 percent of all bedroom furniture and 37 percent of all dining room furniture in the United States. North Carolina ranks second, behind New York, in overall furniture production. (B)

1939 - Philadelphia Retailers Accused of Giving Preference to War Refugees
“Employers, religious workers and social agencies denied rumors that Philadelphia stores were
hiring Jewish refugees in preference to Americans. ‘Not more than 25 refugees have been hired by department stores in the last five years and in no instance has a Jewish refugee replaced a native American on the payrolls,’ heads of Philadelphia stores with payrolls of 15,000 personssaid.” Reported in April 13th, 1939 issue of Furniture World

1939 National Furniture Week
As a way to stimulate business, over 2,000 furniture stores nationwide participated in National Furniture Week, September 30th- October 7th, 1939. Charles S. Shaughnessy, Merchandise Counselor of R.H. Macy & Co. noted that, “National Furniture Week will be only the beginning of a sustained effort, in which the manufacturers and retailers throughout the year will endeavor to attract public thought to the home.” As reported on April 20th, 1939 Furniture World. "Charles S. Shaughnessey Heads Furniture Week Committee."

1940 Plans for a four-story addition to the Southern Exposition Building are announced; before construction begins, 40 exhibitors have rented the new space. (B)

1941 Ed Broyhill acquires McDowell Furniture Co. of Marion, N.C., and Conover Furniture Co. To unify his operations, Broyhill renames the company as Broyhill Furniture Factories, a name later changed to Broyhill Furniture Inds. (A-108-110)

A revolutionary new lumber core press and straight-line production methods are introduced, saving time and producing better-quality core stock. (E-129)

On Dec. 7, “a day that will live in infamy,” Japan attacks Pearl Harbor. President Roosevelt asks Congress for, and receives, a declaration of war against the Axis powers of Japan, Italy and Germany. “Unconditional surrender” is set as the goal of the war effort. Material and manpower used for furniture-making are turned to the war effort, virtually eliminating production for civilian use. The Southern Furniture Exposition is put on hold. (B)

1941-45 The U.S government restricts the use of raw materials in the production of goods not essential to the war effort. To get materials and keep factories running, many Grand Rapids factories accept war production work, building wings, floors, tail assemblies and other wooden parts of gliders. Numerous furniture workers leave their work benches to take up new trades. Other furniture companies throughout the country struggle to keep their doors open, building orders on allotment. (A-47, 151)

1942 Ed Broyhill buys Wrenn Furniture Co. – originally the High Point Furniture Co., one of the oldest furniture producers in North Carolina – at auction. (A-52)

Thirteen-and-a-half stories of the 14-story Southern Furniture Exposition Building are devoted to the war effort, as the Demobilized Personnel Records Branch of the Adjutant General’s Office of the United States Army moves in. (B)

The furniture industry participates in the First National Defense Home Furnishings Market at the American Mart in Chicago. Displays include housing, camp equipment, black-out material and other items made or makable in factories previously involved in the home-building or furniture industries. (C-73, 74)

During the war, companies’ contribution to the war effort included: Bassett Furniture making cargo truck bodies; Crawford Furniture making dishwashing racks, cook’s tables and furniture for officer’s quarters; Drexel Furniture making plywood parts for boats and planes; Hickory Chair producing ammunition boxes; and Charles R. Sligh Co. making film racks and wood cargo trailer bodies. (C-80)

1943 Broyhill makes its first move toward setting up a new system of salaried sales employees, replacing the predominant system of commissioned sales agents. (A-153)

Southern furniture manufacturers attempt to hold a partial market, the only one held during the war years. (B)

Designer and entrepreneur Florence Knoll joins Knoll Associates, the furniture company established by her husband in 1939. She assumes responsibility for the production and international distribution of much important furniture in the period following World War II. She also is responsible for commissioning the work from rising young designers such as Bertoia, Eero Saarinen and Isamu Noguchi. Her own International Style furniture is produced and marketed by Knoll as well. After her husband’s death in 1955, she becomes president of Knoll International. (I-164)

1944 Allied forces launch a successful invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe at Normandy on June 6, or D-Day. The Southern Furniture Exposition Co. purchases 109 feet of frontage adjacent to its existing building for the construction of a 10-story addition. Plans are to increase exhibit space to 475,000 total square feet. (B)

1945 The Chicago Market is officially suspended for the only time during the war due to limitations on travel. During the war years, a number of manufacturers give up their space in Chicago and those who retain spaces make only minimal efforts to exhibit. During this hiatus, buyers begin traveling south to strike bargains with manufacturers hungry for business. (A-190).

1945 The Nazis surrender Berlin on May 2. Japan agrees to unconditional surrender on Sept. 2. American GIs return home to the promise of federally subsidized mortgages at low interest rates with no down payment. Furniture South predicts that the coming need for home furnishings will be the greatest in history. American furniture makers prepare to meet the coming demand for home furnishings; buyers are eager to get products into their stores. (B)

After the war, manufacturers face supply bottlenecks as the necessary wood, metal, plastics and fabrics for production are slow to become available. Manufacturers who are fortunate enough to get supplies are strangled by government price controls put on during the war and not rescinded until late 1946. Although the first post-war furniture markets are limited in lines, dealers flock to them. They are anxious to be in on the “kick off” for when business comes back, despite the fact that quotes in many instances are allocated only to old customers (E-130)

But the early years of the post-war period are rough for furniture makers, as demand remains low and the country’s economy slowly recovers. Dealers are over-inventoried, and consumers are not buying. But eventually, the economy recovers and pent-up demand for furniture explodes. Furniture manufacturers enjoy a brief heyday where consumer demand exceeds supply. But Grand Rapids-based companies fail to take advantage of the boom by investing in new products and plant modernization or enhancing sales and cost-management systems. As a result, new rivals begin to take away their business with mass-production approaches. (A-47, 151)

The Federal Reserve District headquarters in Richmond announces that the Southeast is officially the furniture-producing center of the country. North Carolina overtakes New York as the nation’s leading furniture state, fulfilling the dream of the state’s early industry pioneers. Buyers “flocked to High Point to get the jump on competitors.” (B)

1946 The Army leaves the Southern Exposition Building in May, but as the facility must be converted from offices to exhibition space, no High Point Market is held. Restoration of the building is completed by the end of the year. Housing starts increase 300 percent, from 203,300 to 607,500. (B)

The Eames chair – two molded wooden elements, seat and back, attachd by shock-absorbing rubber paids to a light metal frame – enters production. Charles Eames, the designer, is honored with a one-man show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. That same year, Eames’ furniture begins to be manufactured and sold by the Herman Miller Furniture Co. (I-93)

1947 The first post-war Southern Exposition opens on Jan. 20; more than 5,000 buyers from 2,563 stores in 956 towns swarm into High Point. Furniture sales reach $5 billion. (B)

Designer George Nelson creates the first L-shaped office desk for Herman Miller. (D-302)

1948 Housing starts climb to 937,000. The High Point Market sets new attendance records. (B)

Charles Eames incorporates glass-fibre reinforced plastic on his DAR chair. The plastic enables the creation of a multi-curved baroque form with an ergonomic and technological twist. Eero Saarinen’s Womb Chair 70MC of 1945-48 uses similar technology. (G-189)

1949 Construction begins on a 163,000-square-foot addition to the High Point Exposition Building, named the Wrenn Wing. (B)

1950 The Wrenn Wing opens at the July market in High Point with 100 new exhibitors. More than 6,500 buyers attend the July Market, which features the largest variety of home furnishings ever shown in High Point. Some manufacturers report receiving enough orders to keep their plants operating until October of 1951. Informal "in-between" markets begin to emerge, hosting visitors in April and October. Though this trend continues throughout the 1950s, the main markets are still held in January and July. (B)

Early 1950s Lane Furniture Co. in Altavista, Va., pioneers the use of particle board in furniture. Other companies soon adopt the new material, including Broyhill, which installs its first chipboard plant in 1954. Other furniture manufacturing techniques begin to be introduced, including sophisticated quality control programs. (A-115,168)

A Department of Commerce survey shows that Americans bought furniture at the rate of $3 billion per year – $100 million more than the peak year of 1948 and $200 million more than 1949. Contributing factors include the a home-building boom and high disposable income in the late 1940s. (E-130)

1952 Harry Bertoia, a furniture designer and sculptor who trained and taught with Charles Eames, Florence Knoll and Eero Saarinen at Cranbrook Academy, develops the Diamond chair for Knoll Associates. Part of a series of chromium-plated chairs, the Diamond chair features a seat, arms and back made of one multicurved, basket-shaped lattice, suspended within a boxy-legged substructure of steel rods. The chair becomes a modern classic, produced in great numbers. (I-29)

1953 Eero Saarinen designs the Tulip chair for Knoll, a pure statement of form reflecting the designer’s creativity and the capabilities of the machine. (G-189)

1955 The Furniture Factories Marketing Assn. of the South is formed to formalize the Southern Furniture Market and establish official dates and regulations. This market quickly becomes the premier venue for showcasing new product introductions, attracting buyers from throughout the country. (A-191)

Almost one-half of all wood bedroom furniture made in the United States is produced within a 125-mile radius of High Point. An additional 12 acres of exhibit space opens at the January market. (B)

With many retailers traveling directly to nearby plants to see new product during their market visits, a number of producers in the area erect elegant, full-scale buildings to showcase their offerings. (A-191)

1956 New South Furniture Exposition Corp. begins construction of a 12-story exhibition building across Main Street from the Southern Furniture Exposition. (B)

1957 Construction of a seven-story annex to the Exposition Building is announced. (B)

1958 Reviewing the history of the Southern furniture industry, Furniture South concludes that the coming of the Southern Exposition released the energies that led to industry’s unparalleled success. Due to the success of the spring and fall “mid-season” markets, the January and July events are reduced from 10 to seven days and a Monday to Saturday schedule is adopted. (B)

1960 The size and scope of the April and October High Point shows begin to surpass the January and July events. During the next two decades, they become the dominant force in the American furniture industry. (B)

1960s Pop Art furniture arrives on the scene, inspired by the Pop Art movement in boston painting and sculpture. A reaction against the prevailing tastes of the 1950s, Pop Art furniture features vivid colors, commonplace motifs and often purposefully vulgar imagery of popular, consumerist culture. It also has a touch of humor, as in the baseball glove-shaped “Joe” chair. (I-227)

Also during this period, waterbeds arrive on the scene. These beds consist of a large, flexible plastic cushion filled with water, contained in a low box or frame of wood or some other material. The user reclines or sleeps on the top surface of the cushion, gently rocked by the motion he or she imparts to the water within. (I-315)

1963 Drexel Furniture has a huge hit with Esperanto, a Mediterranean group developed for Macy’s. Designed by Jim Peed, the group kicked off a surge of interest in Mediterranean styles. (C-99)

1963 Ralph and Leon Levitz open their first warehouse showroom in Allentown, Pa. The ideas they used were not new, but they had never been done so well or on such a grand scale. (C-104)

1965 With ever-declining numbers of exhibitors and buyers, the Grand Rapids Furniture Market Assn. decides to discontinue the exhibition in Grand Rapids after 87 years of operation. (L-79)

1966 Factories along the Figure 8 furniture highway in North Carolina, stretching from High Point, Thomasville and Lexington to Statesville and Lenoir, Morganton, Drexel, Hickory, Conover and Newton, produce $676 million worth of furniture, by far the largest output of any state in the nation. (A-55)

Production of medium density fiberboard begins in Deposit, N.Y. This may have been the first such plant, although the first MDF may have been made in Oakridge, Ore., or Meridian, Miss. (D-100)

1967 The Green Drive addition to the Southern Exposition Building opens, creating another 375,000 square feet of exhibit space. (B)

1970s Post-Modern furniture, an offshoot of Post-Modern Architecture, arises, reflecting the dissatisfaction of many designers with functionalism and the European International style. Rejection of these dominant ideas is expressed in decoration that obscures underlying structure and in forms, shapes and decoration drawn from historical styles, especially the neoclassical style. Notable designers include architects such as Michael Graves. (I-228)

1972 Nat Ancell, co-owner of Baumritter, expands the company’s Ethan Allen gallery concept with franchised stores called Showcase Galleries. (C-110)

1976 Contemporary furniture maker Peter Danko creates the Danko chair, an ingenious design in which a whole armchair consists of a single sheet of plywood pierced and bent to produce a comfortable piece of furniture. (I-79)

1980 Organizers in Dallas make a bid to host the major national home furnishings market. In High Point, this spurs a trend toward increasing services for furniture market visitors. (B)

1982 The January and July High Point shows, long relegated to the status of regional markets, are discontinued. April and October are now the only shows in High Point. (B)

1989 Former Ethan Allen chair Nat Ancell conceives the idea of the Home Furnishings Council, an independent non-profit group charged with marketing the entire furnishings industry. Backed by the National Home Furnishings Assn., and the American Furniture Manufacturers Assn., the group develops a television show and how-to magazine to provide decorating ideas to consumers. The organization eventually fades away, however, due to funding issues. (D-195, 196)

2004 The Southern Furniture Manufacturer’s Assn. joins with the National Home Furnishings Assn. to create the American Furniture Manufacturer’s Assn. In 2004, the group changes its name to the American Home Furnishings Alliance. (C-64)

1989 The Southern Furniture Market is renamed the International Home Furnishings Market. High Point's largest showroom, the Southern Furniture Exposition Building, changes its name to the International Home Furnishings Center, or IHFC. Approximately 55,000 people attend the October market. (B )

1990 A decade-long construction boom begins, adding 3 million square feet of showrooms to the 7 million-square-foot High Point Market. (B)

2000 High Point showroom expansion continues,with the addition of massive new temporary exhibit spaces: The Suites at Market Square (April) and Showplace (October). (B)

2001 The 12th floor of the IHFC opens, giving the building 3.5 million square feet of space – more than 14 times its original size. Market organizers estimate about 80,000 visitors on average attend the April and October Markets. The High Point International Home Furnishings Market Authority Corp. is formed. In one of its first actions to improve the guest experience, The Market Authority hires a professional transportation company to take over all shuttle operations. (B)

2002 Recognizing the importance of the furniture industry and the High Point Market to the state’s economy, the N.C. General Assembly offers its support to the show. The market is shortened by a half-day – now opening on Thursday and closing the following Wednesday. (B)

2005 A new state-of-the-art Transportation Terminal opens in downtown High Point, offering market visitors free shuttles to every showroom and event. An on-line Market Planning Tool is added to the Market Authority Web site, allowing guests to select the showrooms and events they will be visiting, and then print them out on a map that cross-references each location to its nearest shuttle stop. The market grows by 187,500 square feet as five new showrooms are opened. (B)

2006 The International Home Furnishings Market officially changes its name to the High Point Market. Market Authority establishes the International Buyers Center to provide business and concierge services for guests from outside the United States, and a Buyers Lounge to serve the needs of domestic visitors. Stars Under the Stars evening entertainment event brings well-known musical acts to market. Attendance at the Spring Market exceeds 100,000 guests. (B)

2007 In High Point, construction begins on the conversion of the eight-floor building at 101 S. Main St. to an exhibition facility, to be known as Showplace West. (B)

A study conducted by High Point University reveals that the furniture industry contributes $8.94 billion to the North Carolina economy; nearly 13,000 jobs related to the High Point Market.The High Point Market is awarded International Buyer Program designation by the U.S. Department of Commerce. (B)


A = “Anvil of Adversity,” by WIlliam Stephens

B = Greensboro News & Record – High Point Edition, Oct. 12, 2003; A History of Southern Furniture, Dr. David N. Thomas; Furniture South, Vol. 6, No. 10, Sec. 2, Oct 1967 (all from the High Point Market Authority’s Web site).

C = Furniture World magazine, Volume 140, No. 2, March/April 2010.

D = Wood & Wood Product Centennial issue, 1896-1996, published December 1995 by Vance Publishing.

E = “A History of American Furniture,” by N.I. Bienenstock. (need more information here on publication date, etc.?-gj)

F = “Early History of the North Carolina Furniture Industry, 1880-1921,” by David Nolan Thomas, doctoral thesis for University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1964.

G = “Furniture: A Concise History,” by Edward Lucie-Smith, published 1993 by Thames & Hudson

H = “The Encyclopedia of Furniture,” by Joseph Aronson, published 1965 by Crown Publishers.

I = “The Dictionary of Furniture, by Charles Boyce, published 1985 by Roundtable Press

J = Web site

K =

L = “Grand Rapids Furniture: The Story of America’s Furniture CIty,” by Christian G. Carron, published 1998 by The Public Museum of Grand Rapids.

M =

N =

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