Adirondack Chairs: Seven Facts You Never Knew About These Beauties

A couple of planks of wood; two words; a legendary chair! 

Of course, to many people, it’s just another chair. However, the Adirondack is a lot more than only a place for you to sit. You don’t need to live in the wilderness of New York to appreciate such a cult classic in chairs. These chairs have practically become summertime staples across the country, regardless of where you enjoy them. 

But did you know that these chairs actually have quite a rich history associated with them? Do you know where they get the name ‘Adirondack’ from? 

Well, here are some lesser-known facts about your favorite chair.

1. A cult classic never goes out of style

Traditional Adirondack varieties of chairs are instantly identifiable in pitch and shape. Its beauty lies in the simplicity: planks of wood forming the slanted seat portion and backrest and simple wooden planks acting as wide armrests. The short legs are only a couple of inches from the ground.

Nowadays, you will find designs tweaking the classic shape and creating new style options. However, nothing beats the warm and rustic feel of the classic cedar Adirondack chairs. It is durable, long-lasting, and elegant. So, it is completely fine if you like the old-school classic Adirondack. The best part is that you can even find double-seated Adirondacks in the market at present.

2. Famously named after a mountain range

These chairs get their title from the famous Adirondack Mountain in New York. Legend has it that the term was selected for the chairs as the visitors of a recuperating home for patients near the Adirondack range loved sitting in these chairs and enjoying the therapeutic mountain air.

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But it wasn’t always called Adirondack, and it’s not the sole name it has at present. The original name was the Westport chair because the makers patented the design in Westport in New York (and more on this coming up!).

Canadians know these chairs as the Muskoka, which got its name after the beautiful Muskoka country that Ontarians love to flock to during summer. And French-Canadians call these the Laurentian chair, which is named after the region Laurentia in Quebec.

3. Thomas Lee: the man who started it all

Back in 1903, Thomas Lee was vacationing with his family in Westport, New York. He found that it was hard to take a seat on the traditional chairs on that sloppy and uneven ground. The chairs kept tilting forward or backward, leading to discomfort and poor balance.

His mission was to make the best wooden outdoor chair that will let him enjoy the marvels of the pristine Lake Champlain. At least, this is how this popular story goes!

So, Thomas Lee made the archetype of the chairs that you have come to know and love at present. Every detail was meticulously taken care of. To offer you a clear idea of his attention to detail, he also made the seat on a plank, making sure it is absolutely well-matched with the slopes of the Westport terrain.

If you keep the Westport chairs on the sides of the mountain, the plank lets you look right onto the horizon.

4. A fabled story of friends turning foes

The story gets a little confusing here, but here is how it goes. Most versions advise that the carpenter friend of Thomas Lee, Harry Bunnell, was the person who patented this design. But no one is exactly sure about how that happened.

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The story goes like this: Bunnell was a bit short on cash, and Lee came up with the suggestion that he make replicas of the chairs to sell in the shop. One group suggests that Lee agreed to the mass production of the product by Bunnell. Others indicate the patent by Bunnell, which came through on 18th July 1905, was actually a sly move behind his friend’s back. 

Guess no one will ever know the actual story!

5. The original version of the Westport chairs

The actual Westport chairs are quite different from the Muskoka or Adirondack iterations that we see at present. Hemlock was the wood of choice for maximum Adirondacks because makers easily found it in New York. The other popular option is Basswood.

The stamp on its back is the telltale sign of the actual Westport chair, which featured the USA patent number Bunnell got in 1905. If you are an antique hunter, make sure to look out for an authentic Westport chair: this chair in mint condition can cost you at least a thousand bucks.

6. Accessorizing the chairs makes them look better

You will need to decorate these chairs with the perfect accessories. It remains highly recommended that you get a footstool or an ottoman for the legs such that you can sink in and relax. 

Headrest pillows and cushions are also good options as they add some padding to a highly comfortable piece of furniture. People also add side tables and other pieces to make it look like a complete set of patio furniture. 

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7. Adirondacks come with a host of benefits

Most people favor the Adirondacks due to the coziness it offers. The major positive point about the chair is its wide armrests, which makes it highly comfortable because there is bigger room for the arms. 

Another great thing about Adirondacks is that it does not leave you weary and achy when you take a seat on it during those long outdoor hours. The refreshing, comfortable and relaxed feeling will never go away. These chairs are of excellent quality, totally versatile and durable. Thus, once you buy them, they will continue to give you company for many years. 

Wrapping Up

Bet you didn’t know that these humble chairs had so many interesting facts and stories behind them! Wouldn’t it feel even more amazing to buy Adirondacks now that you know you’re buying something steeped in history? So, the next time you bring home these chairs, make sure you let your friends and family know about these facts.


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