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Posts Tagged ‘Westport chair’

The Adirondack Chair Revisited

In Adirondacks, Daily Munge, History & Heritage on June 29, 2011 at 7:30 am

Adirondack R&R in one of many versions of the Adirondack Chair

“To all whom it may concern: Be it known that I, Harry C. Bunnell, a citizen of the United States, residing at Westport, in the county of Essex and the State of New York, have invented a new and useful Improvement in Chairs. … ” So begins patent number 794,777, dated July 18, 1905, in reference to what we commonly refer to as the Adirondack Chair. With its signature slanted back and wide armrests, the recognizable profile of this outdoor recliner has become a trademark of summer in America. Despite the patent filed over a hundred years ago, though, Harry Bunnell, a carpenter and shop owner, was not actually the one who created the chair’s design. (via NYTimes.com.)

Image from original patent for the Adirondack Chair

Image from original patent for the Adirondack Chair

In Monday’s Rosslyn Roundup I included a link to a post about the Adirondack Chair, invented by Thomas Lee in 1903 but copied and adapted by countless carpenters since. A welcome surprise then to see the New York Times’ The 6th Floor blog tackling the same timely topic today. In “Who Made That Adirondack Chair?” Hilary Greenbaum highlights Harry C. Bunnel’s decision to patent the design actually invented by Thomas Lee allegedly without his permission. A case of vintage Adirondack snark? Perhaps. But even in Hilary’s telling, Lee seems to have been gracious and let the matter go, permitting his friend to produce the chairs for profit for a quarter century.

As luck would have it, I’m friendly with several of Thomas Lee’s descendants to still reside in (or visit) Westport — our Lake Champlain neighbor to the south —  where the original Westport chairs (aka Adirondack chairs) were invented and produced. I’ll have to ask if there’s any more to this story, perhaps passed down through the generations. In fact, Bruce Ware, the realtor who showed us property for several years and ultimately brokered the deal for us when we purchased Rosslyn is directly or indirectly related to Thomas Lee. I’ll see what I can find out…

If you know any more about the history of the Adirondack chair, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

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Rosslyn Roundup, June 27

In Adirondacks, Champlain Valley, Daily Munge, History & Heritage on June 27, 2011 at 5:43 pm
Adirondack chairs

Adirondack chairs (photo courtesy of albanykid.com)

It’s time for another Rosslyn Roundup to share everything Rosslyn-related that I didn’t get a chance to post this past week. Summer in the Champlain Valley has a way of inching along slowly, slowly, slowly and then suddenly galloping off! This summer was not exception, but the transition was even more apparent because of protracted Lake Champlain flooding. With almost two months a record breaking high water, the flood delayed the normal spring/summer transition. And once the water did finally drop, everyone hustled double-time to catch up!

This has been especially evident in our fair hamlet by the lake. Essex is undergoing a veritable renaissance! Despite early concerns that The Old Dock Restaurant and the Essex Shipyard and Rudder Club might be unable to open for the season due to severe flood damage, both are racing a July 1 opening date. And that’s only part of the Essex renaissance. Nary a storefront in the village is empty, and the offerings are exceptional. In fact, there’s so much activity that a new website has been born to tell the Essex story called Essex on Lake Champlain; it will serve as a digital bulletin board and community blog for Essex, New York. I’ve included a parade of blog posts from the website in my roundup below, so I hope you’ll take a moment to discover why Essex is such a grand place to live and visit.

In addition to the Essex stories, I’m starting with a post about the now ubiquitous Adirondack chair courtesy of Wanda Shapiro (@WandaShapiro), the author of Sometimes That Happens With Chicken. Although this chair proudly announces its Adirondack heritage wherever it is enjoyed, not many know that it was actually invented in Westport, the next town south of Essex. You may be surprised about its history!

Without further ado, I offer you the June 27 Rosslyn Roundup:

  • The Adirondack, Burnell, Westport or Muskoka Chair: Westport Chair was the original name for the Adirondack Chair… There is in fact a small town populated by about 1500 people called Westport, New York, on the western shores of Lake Champlain. It is on the very eastern edge of the Adirondack Park, and is quite a picturesque vacation destination. In1903 one Mr Thomas Lee set about to build the perfect chair for such a spot, as all his relations had taken up those in his mountainside cabin.
  • Travel Writing Contest Hosted by Champlain Area Trails: Get your pencils sharpened, your laptops powered, and your cameras ready, Champlain Area Trails (CATS) will soon launch its first Travel Writing Contest. It’s your chance to write about your travels in New York’s central Champlain Valley—to share your favorite experiences on the Champlain Area Trails–whether it’s hiking, walking, skiing, snowshoeing, birding, tracking, picnicking, or a little bit of each…
  • Provisions and Paparazzi in Essex, NY: “Essex is alive with both new and well-established businesses, opening up, dusting off and getting ready for the season…” So opens Sue Cameron’s “Provisions and Papparazzi” post on LakePlacid.com on June 14. Essex is alive! It’s incredible how much is going on in Essex these last couple of weeks. Essex businesses have proven that even a record breaking flood can’t drown the Essex spirit. Residents, businesses and friends of both are pulling together for what is shaping up to be the best summer in decades.
  • Longtime Residents Recall Essex Inn Years Ago: Last Sunday Alvin Reiner at the Press-Republican ran a fascinating story about the Essex Inn and the fusion of past and future in this historic landmark recently renovated by the Daltons and now open to the public. “We are reaching out to bridge the gap, as there is often a lot of knowledge that gets lost,” she said. (via Press-Republican.) Essex has long represented an important bridge back into history, but the Dalton’s Essex Inn revitalization is one of many new bridges forward toward a bright and shiny future.
  • Summer Arrives in Essex on Lake Champlain: Kim Rielly posted an enthusiastic blog post about summer in Essex celebrating flood recovery, exciting new businesses and the timeless charm that has drawn visitors and residents for decades. She asks, “could it possibly be true that the recently-submerged businesses were planning to open THIS summer? It’s true. In fact, the community is not only ready to welcome visitors for the summer – it is veritably BUZZING with activity.”
  • The Neighborhood Nest: A Gathering of Art, Nature and Antiques: Now in its 16th season, The Neighborhood Nest is one of the oldest businesses in Essex, NY but remains forever surprising! Open daily between 11:00 am and 5:00 pm, The Nest features a treasure hunt experience that spills into a wildly beautiful garden.
  • Pantouf’s Celebrates Summer with Beautiful Glassware: Yesterday I visited Helen Goetz at Pantouf’s in Essex. If you’ve never seen her beautiful glass work, now’s the perfect time to swing by before she gets swarmed with visitors… In addition to showing me her colorful glass serving platters and pitchers, Helen graciously toured me through the home, explaining how it had been configured and functioned when occupied by the Essex town doctor.
  • Live Well in the Champlain Valley: Another new addition to the Essex wellness scene is blooming on Main Street with the opening of Live Well. The beautifully remodeled space offers a wide range of health and healing services, and represents the collaborative genius of three Champlain Valley holistic health and wellness practitioners…
  • Full and By Farm, June 23, 2011: We took advantage of the beautifully sunny weather spell to make hay. We cut about 22 acres starting last week, and successfully baled 19 of it. The rain caught us in the middle of raking the last small field and we had to abandon the project. Once the grass and clover is cut rain begins to leach away the nutrients. Four straight days of rain is enough to ruin the hay as winter feed. It’s always a sad defeat, but part of making hay with an ever changing weather forecast.
  • The Old Dock Restaurant: The Old Dock Restaurant is a seasonal restaurant and bar located in the Historic Hamlet of Essex, New York. Guests arrive by automobile, private boat or on the Charlotte-Essex… Slips are available for our guests who arrive by boat. Passengers on the Charlotte-Essex ferry have the option to leave their automobiles in the free parking lot at Charlotte and when they arrive in Essex stroll a few feet to the Old Dock.
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