Why Are Adirondack Chairs Called That? (Explained)

Adirondack chairs are a type of outdoor furniture that are known for their distinctive design features. These chairs typically have wide armrests, a slanted back and seat, and are made from durable and weather-resistant materials such as wood or plastic. They are often used for lounging and relaxation on porches, lawns, and camps.

Invented in 1903 by Thomas Lee in Westport, New York, near the Adirondack Mountains, Adirondack chairs quickly became a symbol of rustic outdoor leisure. Their popularity grew throughout the 20th century and they are now a staple of outdoor living, often found in vacation homes and bungalow-type residences.

The purpose of this article is to explore the history and meaning behind the name “Adirondack chair.” By delving into the origins of this iconic piece of furniture, we can gain a deeper appreciation for its design and enduring popularity.

Why Are Adirondack Chairs Called That

The Original Name: Westport Chair

When Thomas Lee designed and built the first prototype of the Adirondack chair, he did so for his family’s summer home in Westport, New York. He wanted a comfortable chair that would allow his family to sit and enjoy the outdoors. The original chair was made of hemlock wood and had a slanted seat and tall slatted back. The chair also had wide armrests and a contoured seat, making it both sturdy and comfortable.

In 1904, Lee patented the design for the chair and granted the exclusive rights to his friend Harry Bunnell, a local carpenter. Bunnell started mass-producing and selling the chairs as “Westport chairs.” The original Westport chair had four legs instead of two rockers and was painted in green or dark brown.

Over the years, the Westport chair has undergone many variations in styles and materials. Some chairs were made of pine instead of hemlock, while others had multiple slats instead of a single piece of wood for the back. Some chairs had a rounded back, while others had a high back. Some chairs even had a footstool to provide extra comfort.

Despite these variations, the traditional design of the Westport chair has remained popular. Its wide armrests and sturdy construction make it a favorite for outdoor relaxation.

The Name Change: Adirondack Chair

Over time, the name “Adirondack chair” has become more widely used than “Westport chair.” The change in name likely emerged due to various factors and reasons.

One possible factor is the geographic proximity and association of Westport to the Adirondack Mountains, a popular tourist destination and natural reserve. The Adirondack Mountains are known for their scenic beauty, rustic charm, and outdoor recreation opportunities.

By naming the chair after the mountain range, manufacturers could appeal to customers who wanted to bring a piece of the Adirondacks to their own front porch or backyard.

Another possible reason for the name change is the marketing strategy and branding of Bunnell and other manufacturers who wanted to appeal to a broader customer base and emphasize the outdoor and rustic nature of the chair. By using the name “Adirondack,” manufacturers could create a distinct and recognizable brand that stood out from other lawn-chair designs.

The cultural influence and recognition of the Adirondack style and region in American art, literature, and architecture may have also played a role in the name change. The Adirondack style is known for its simple, balanced aesthetic that emphasizes comfort, support, and relaxation.

The Adirondack region has been the subject of many famous paintings, photographs, and stories that have helped to popularize the style and evoke a sense of nostalgia and tranquility.

Finally, the evolution and adaptation of the chair design and material to suit different needs and preferences may have contributed to the name change. Manufacturers have added various features to the chair, such as rockers, cushions, cup holders, and ottomans, to make it more comfortable and versatile.

They have also used different materials, such as cedar, pine, teak, plastic, aluminum, HDPE lumber, and recycled plastic, to make the chair more weather-resistant, durable, and cost-effective.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the Adirondack chair has a rich history and has become a beloved piece of American furniture. Its design is both stylish and comfortable, making it perfect for outdoor living and relaxation. The chair’s popularity has led to many variations and styles, but the original design still holds its charm.

As a Massachusetts native, Thomas Lee created the first Adirondack chair in 1903 while vacationing near Lake Champlain. The chair’s design was inspired by the Adirondack Mountains and its durable and weather-resistant materials make it easy to maintain.

Whether you’re lounging on your porch or enjoying a bonfire with friends, the Adirondack chair is a timeless piece that will add comfort and style to your outdoor living space. So why not grab a cold drink, kick back, and enjoy the view from your very own Adirondack chair?

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