The Adirondack region is a vast unique wilderness that people visit to experience the centuries-old tradition of outdoor exploration and adventure. Whether you come to hike and breathe the clean mountain air, explore the lakes region or take in the many small villages each with their own unique flare you may notice a common distinctly identifiable item… Distinct Adirondack Furniture.
The story of how this iconic centuries old design came about is true Americana.
The first Adirondack chair was designed by Thomas Lee in 1903 at the large summer retreat he and his family frequented each summer, a large camp located in Westport, New York, on the banks of Lake Champlain. Lee was a tinkerer. He sought to create outdoor furniture for him and his family for their retreat that was rugged yet comfortable.
All summer long he worked on the design, adjusting the angles, using his family members as his test until he was satisfied. Lee arrived at a design known as the “Westport plank chair”. It doesn’t appear that he had any intention to manufacture the design. At this point they were nothing more than homemade family chairs.
Enter Harry Bunnell a carpenter friend and hunting companion to Lee. As the legend goes, while hunting together in the Autumn of 1903 Bunnell mention that he was in need of winter income. Lee’s (condensed) reply – “Why don’t you make and sell some of those big chairs?” So Lee offered up his design to Bunnell probably thinking he had helped solve his friends’ winter income dilemma. Bunnell began building his version of Lee’s chairs out of hemlock or basswood and staining them in green or medium dark brown. The residents and visitors of Westport fell in love with the design so much that Bunnell was challenged to keep pace with the demand. In early 1904 (minus Lee’s permission) Bunnell filed for a patent (No. 794,777) on “his” chair design naming it the Westport Plank Chair.
Cliff Pierce poses at his wrought iron factory in the 80’s in Upstate New York.
Flash forward sixty years to another tinkerer, a fast-rising businessman Cliff Pierce from Walden, New York.
Pierce had made his way into the Lake George area, through a unique opportunity to purchase a portion of an unkempt lakefront neighborhood for a bargain price. Continue Reading…
Solid Wood Furniture: What does that mean? How do I know it’s solid wood? Why should I pay extra for it?
There’s a lot of unknowns for most shoppers around solid wood furniture. Why should I buy it? What exactly is it? And what are its benefits… At Manchester Wood, we make and sell exclusively solid wood furniture. And here’s why:
- It brings a feel of quality décor to your home.
- If it’s well built, solid wood furniture is incredibly durable and can last for generations.
- There is a sustainability and ethical factor. We believe in Eco-friendly sourcing practices.
- A common cheaper alternative is “veneer furniture,” and this is what works and what doesn’t:
- It’s a lower investment, and an easier expense on a tighter budget
- It gives the appearance of a larger selection of wood finishes and designs
- It can be easier to match sometimes with a uniformed finish, because of its manufactured “fake” look
- Commonly used with MDF, particleboard and other materials… BIG problem:
- These materials are mixed with chemicals and glues to provide “strength”
- They are lighter, makes it easier to manage, but doesn’t last long with major susceptibilities to damage that cannot be repaired
A lot of furniture retailers want you to buy without really looking at the materials. Be sure to check what the material is, and Google the name if you’re confused by it. As sometimes they put “dressed up” names on furniture materials to make it sound like solid wood. We truly love solid wood furniture at Manchester Wood, and not only do we enjoy making it and selling it to our customers for the last 40 years, but we love it in our own homes too.
Here is a wood furniture care solution:
When approaching wood furniture care, use a damp cloth and high-quality wood cleaner. Check out Seventh Generation’s Wood Cleaner using USDA Certified Biobased Product fragranced with essential oils and botanical extracts from lemon and chamomile. You could also try Method’s Wood for Good Cleaner, another non-toxic, plant-based cleaner that smells like almond.
Apply monthly, or as you see fit, to a clean cloth, and polish in the direction of the grain, then buff. For regular maintenance, a damp cloth does the trick.
Something to avoid: Don’t use household polishes with products that contain petroleum distillates or silicone, common ingredients that can leave residue.
Wood furniture is beautiful, and something we majorly enjoy in our house, as well as design and build for our customers across the country. With a little bit of maintenance, you’ll have your wood furniture looking brand new for years to come.