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Backyard Blogging.

History of the Adirondack Chair

You probably recognize the traditional Adirondack chair, but do you know the history of this much-loved chair?

The iconic Adirondack chair is one that you recognize on site. Many people think it only fits in country-style decor, but at Ultra Modern, we know it’s at home in a variety of settings from luxe to modern to contemporary to antique and all-natural. Let’s look at the history of the Adirondack and just where it came from.

The Adirondack was Born in 1903

When you see an Adirondack, you might think it’s been around for centuries.

Well, Thomas Lee created the original chair in 1903 in Westport, New York. Lee was looking for the “perfect outdoor chair.” He wanted to put it at his lake house in Lake Champlain. Lee was looking for a chair that would be sturdy enough to handle the rugged Adirondack terrain. He wanted sturdy armrests, a high back, and a cozy slanted seat.

He created the seat of the chair on a slant on purpose. This was to make sure the chair sat evenly on the uneven terrain in the area. It needed to be sturdy as well as comfortable. Today’s Adirondack stays slanted so you can recline in your chair.

Originally the chair was made from hemlock. Why? It’s because it was easy to find. Today’s chairs may be made from plastic as well as cedar, pine, and even Brazilian walnut. Oftentimes you’ll the regular one-person chair, but you’ll also find them made in two-person benches and even bar chairs. At Ultra Modern, you’ll even find pint-size chairs for the kids!

In addition, the first chairs had just one piece of wood on the back for support. Today’s chairs have many small slats of wood. This makes the chair more comfortable and aids airflow to keep you cool in the hot summer weather.

The Patented Adirondack Chair

Once Lee finished the design, he turned to his friend, Henry Bunnell. He owned a carpentry shop, and Lee gave him the chair’s design. Once he began to build and sell the chairs, Bunnell knew they were going to be popular. He made the chair a bit narrower and patented the design in 1904.

The chair continued to grow in popularity. It was durable and comfortable, and everyone loved it. As the years passed, the chair took more of the modern flair we know today.


More Adirondack History

You may know that the chair is named after the Adirondack mountains in New York. Why? It’s said the tuberculosis health centers used the chairs for people who went to the mountains to breathe the fresh air.

Although the first chairs were known as the Westport plank chair because they were designed in Westport, New York. In Canada, the chair is called a Muskoka chair and is named after a type of summer vacation cottage.

Furthermore, the French call the chair the Laurentian chair and named it after a region in Quebec.

Basically, the iconic chair takes its name from places and things that make people feel better. At Ultra Modern, we know it’s the perfect chair for relaxation and resting outside in nature!

Final Thoughts

Back in 1938, Irving Wolpin from New Jersey got a patent for a design chair.

Now called the “lawn chair,” he kept the slanted seat and the wide armrests, but he added the smaller slats, a contoured seat, and a rounded back.

Today, this style is what we see most often.

Ready to pick up your own Adirondack chair – come see us at one of our showrooms today!