A variation of this blog was featured on L.L. Bean’s Trail Mix during Labor Day weekend last year. It was written by Luke Eriksen, grandson of Manchester Wood’s founder Clifford Pierce, and Nathaniel Gibson, a freelance writer based in Southern Vermont.
Over the past century, the Adirondack chair has become a classic piece of American outdoor furniture. Originally conceived as a fairly basic design in the early 1900s in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, where our mill is presently located, has been redesigned in numerous styles with various features since its inception. The Adirondack chairs that Manchester Wood offers today incorporate the best of these refinements to make it convenient and comfortable, while still holding true to its distinct American heritage.
The design for our classic Adirondack Folding Chair originated when our founder Clifford Pierce, during the early 1980s, spent summers with the family at his lakefront camp on Lake George in the Adirondacks of New York. While taking boat rides on the lake, “the boys” and Cliff would pass by various old family estates that had Adirondack chairs on their property, set by campfire pits or on sprawling front yards and, most iconically, on docks. There were many styles and most appeared aged and worn, falling apart over just a couple seasons. Cliff reckoned it was because they were made out of pine and scrap crates, which were the common materials, used for Adirondack chairs at the time.
After learning of Cliff’s interest in the chairs, a friend and neighbor at the lake happily gave Cliff one of his Adirondack chairs to study and reference dimensions. Thus began Manchester Wood’s development of the Adirondack chair. The timing was excellent. Previously, Manchester Wood had focused on making smaller solid wood products, such as towel holders and spice racks, but during the early 1980s we transitioned to producing larger solid wood furniture pieces. The Adirondack chair fit in perfectly with this transition.
Early on it was decided that the chairs should be foldable. Easy storage was a key feature in Cliff’s mind as he had seen too many prematurely weathered and dilapidated chairs on the docks and shores of Lake George. Unlike bulkier designs that were a hassle to move and took up too much space to store inside easily, the folding design did not take up as much space and encouraged customers to keep the chairs inside over the winter.
The Adirondack Chair designed by Cliff was introduced at the Chicago Housewares Trade Show in 1984 where it became a hit, and an eventual iconic brand image for one of our leading wholesale accounts we continue with today. The Adirondack Chair they knew was going to be a hit, although with a few changes. They asked for the design to be made a bit more traditional, with wider arms and seat legs, and a tapered back. “But,” they told us, “keep that folding idea!”
From this collaboration, our initial Adirondack Chair for sale was born, debuting in their catalog during the spring of 1985. Over the years it has become famous for its quality solid wood construction, durability and ease of storage, and remains the perfect finishing touch for beach and lake houses, porches, decks, patios and many other outdoor spaces.
We think that if Cliff were out on a lake today, he would be pleased to see that in the place of many of the weathered hulks that initially inspired him are the Adirondack chairs that he helped create, still in good condition thanks to their durable, folding design.
Manchester Wood is proud to announce the next generation of our folding Adirondack chair and extended collection of the same inspiration in the coming early summer months of this year… stay tuned.
To visit our current online catalog, visit ManchesterWood.com
Manchester Wood has designed and produced quality, affordable, eco-friendly solid wood American made furniture in the Green Mountains of Vermont and Adirondack foothills of New York for over 35 years.