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How the Adirondack Chair Got Its Name
To many, Adirondack chairs are the epitome of outdoor comfort, even for those who are never quite sure how to pronounce the name.
<em>Adir-uh-what</em>? Can we just call it a wood chair and be done with it? And, where did it get that crazy name, anyway? And, who takes credit for that sweet design? These are questions that deserve answers!
<strong>The Man Who Invented the Adirondack Chair (but Didn’t Get Credit for It) </strong>
The Adirondack Mountains form a dome of peaks in upstate New York and make up the northeast region of the Appalachians along with several other summit groupings including the Catskills, Poconos and Green Mountains in nearby Vermont. It was up in these yonder hills in 1903 that Thomas Lee, a virtual unknown in the annals of history, invented the <a title="Adirondack Chairs" href="http://www.atgstores.com/adirondack-chairs_972.html" target="_blank">Adirondack chair</a> so he and his family could recline in style at their summer home in Westport.
So, why is it that Lee’s name is not uttered in a luxurious sigh every time someone sinks down into one of these iconic furniture pieces? It’s all because of a no-goodnik neighbor (and arguably inferior furniture designer) named Harry Bunnell, who took it upon himself to patent Lee’s design behind his back and made a mint selling them as “Westpoint Chairs” for a good twenty years.
<strong>The Man Who <em>Improved</em> the Adirondack Chair (and Totally Got Credit for It) </strong>
It wasn’t until 1938, some time after Bunnell saturated the New York outdoor furniture market with his pilfered design, that Irving Wolpin came along with another patent that reshaped the back and seat of the original chair. These and other modifications led to a wide variety of the slatted chairs and eventually all of them came to be called Adirondack chairs, although it hardly makes up for Lee’s obliteration from the history books.
Yet, there is no evidence of Lee pursuing his rightful place on the Adirondack throne during his so-called friend's profiteering or Wolpin's subsequent patent-seeking. He took no legal action of record and left no clues as to his feelings about all the shifty maneuvering. So, perhaps it is Lee who won after all – choosing to relax in <em>his</em> Adirondack and think happy thoughts instead of chasing after chair fortunes and furniture fame.
<strong>The Adirondack Chair Today (and Its Enduring Evolution)</strong>
Nowadays, the Adirondack chair comes in countless designs that include <a title="Adirondack Rockers" href="http://www.atgstores.com/products/default.aspx?q=%20Adirondack%20Chairs&atb=attr_type=%7cRocking%7c&tid=972" target="_blank">rockers</a>, <a title="Adirondack Loungers" href="http://www.atgstores.com/products/default.aspx?q=%20Adirondack%20Chairs&atb=attr_type=%7cLounge%7c&tid=972" target="_blank">loungers</a> and even<a title="Adirondack Gliders" href="http://www.atgstores.com/products/default.aspx?q=%20Adirondack%20Chairs&atb=attr_type=%7cLounge%7c&tid=972" target="_blank"> gliders</a>. They come in all different shapes, sizes and colors, and you can even find designs that <a title="Folding Adirondack Chairs" href="http://www.atgstores.com/products/default.aspx?q=%20Adirondack%20Chairs&atb=attr_type=%7cFolding%7c&tid=972" target="_blank">fold up</a> so you can take them on the go <strong>–</strong> something Lee would have surely loved. Thomas Lee was an innovator of a seemingly rare sort; the kind of man who sought to make life more comfortable with comfort being his only reward. It stands to reason that he'd be the kind of guy who would appreciate how far his vision has traveled.
<a title="ATG Stores Home Page" href="http://www.atgstores.com/default.aspx" target="_blank">ATGStores.com</a> salutes Thomas Lee and his simple yet beautiful Adirondack chair.