It's a Classic

The History of the Adirondack Chair

Adirondack chairs are ubiquitous today, especially at vacation homes.

By Marsha Fottler December 1, 2015

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Adirondack chairs are ubiquitous today, especially at vacation homes. The chairs first made their appearance in 1903 when Thomas Lee was vacationing on Lake Champlain in the Adirondack Mountains. In need of outdoor seating, he constructed a chair out of 11 pieces of flat pine boards, using a slant back and seat and wide arms. He tested versions on his family, then asked local carpenter Harry Bunnell to make some. Bunnell realized that the chair had possibilities, and two years later, without notifying Lee, he applied for and received a patent. He produced the chairs in hickory or hemlock wood, painted them brown or green, and signed his name to them. Thomas Lee never received a penny.

Today, Adirondack chairs come in Western red cedar, eucalyptus, pine, resin and plastic and in versions that include high chairs, settees, folding chairs, child-size sets, rocking chairs, swings—you name it. You can even own one made of clear acrylic, which is very cool indeed. Prices start at about $50 and ascend to the hundreds for custom creations. Buy yours at big box stores, hardware stores, patio furniture places, department stores, through interior designers and, of course, online.

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