Adirondack Chairs: A century-old tradition

Most credit for creating the Adirondack chair is given to Thomas Lee of Westport. He designed the chair as an alternative to uncomfortable Victorian chairs. The story goes that in 1903 he nailed several pine boards together, testing the chair by trial and error with family members until it was comfortable enough. The chair had wide 4-inch arms, ideal for setting a drink or book, and a low center of gravity that made them very stable. Over the years, the chair has been called many things Southwest Adirondack, High Peaks, Muskoka or Westport since there are as many variations as there are makers. H. C. Bunnell sold mostly to rustic camps in the Adirondacks, including sales for use by tuberculosis patients who came north from the cities for the wilderness cure at sanatoriums like the Trudeau Institute in Saranac Lake. Fifteen years later in 1918, the architect Gerrit Thomas Rietveld scientificallydesigned a chair using formulas and calculations to arrive at his chair to keep one both alert yet comfortable. His work was part of the deStijlarts movement which focused on the essential of form and design. His "Red and Blue" chair is now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

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