Friday, July 13, 2012

The big things in North Carolina

 Today we headed into town to find the things that are BIG in North Carolina.  Our first stop is the biggest dining room chair.  This area is and was noted for furniture making.  Some may have heard of Thomasville furniture.  We are in Thomasville to find our chair.

Here is some information I found on the Internet about the places we visited

The story began in 1922. It seems Thomasville had already gained a reputation as “The Chair Town” due to the fact that products of Thomasville Chair Company (now Thomasville Furniture Industries) were almost exclusively simple, sturdy, straight-back chairs. Somebody, no one knows for certain who, got the idea to erect a big chair to call attention to the town’s chief industry.
Thomasville has actually had two big chairs. The first one was erected in September 1922, at almost the same spot occupied by the one standing today. It was made by Thomasville Chair Company and took enough lumber to build 100 ordinary chairs. The project kept 3 men working 10 hours a day for 1 week. When completed it stood 13 feet 6 inches tall. The seat was 6 feet by 5 feet 6 inches tall and covered in leather made from the hide of a Swiss steer.
After nearly 15 years of exposure, the local chair was scrapped in 1936.  Shortly after the first chair was taken down, another larger, more ornate chair was considered. It was not until 1948; however, after the Chamber of Commerce was formed, that the restoration movement began. This time it was decided the chair was to be built to last forever.
 It was decided that  a concrete chair should be built.  A steel skeleton was fashioned by Salem Steel Company of Winston-Salem. Harvey, working in the Thomasville Chair plant on Taylor Street, fabricated wire mesh to fit over the steel skeleton in proportions dictated by Johnson’s plans. After that, Harvey labored for over six months coating the mesh—a spoonful at a time—with a mixture of cement and granite dust to a thickness of about a half-inch. The chair was then painted to make it appear that it was built with wood and to suggest the seat had been upholstered with a striped fabric. 

When completed, the new Big Chair of Thomasville stood 30 feet high from the bottom of the 12-foot base to the top of the 18- foot chair. The seat was 10-1/2 feet wide. In 1960, The Thomasville Chair gained national attention when vice-presidential hopeful Lyndon B. Johnson stopped to greet local supporters from atop the chair while on a campaign whistle stop. The Big Chair has since hosted governors, university presidents, mayors, beauty queens, and even an evangelist. It has also been listed in Ripley’s Believe It or Not.
Today, the Big Chair of Thomasville is still a focal point for tourists as well as local citizens; and, continues to call attention to our city’s chief industry. While other communities have seen bigger chairs come and go, Thomasville still boasts the remaining “WORLD’S LARGEST CHAIR!”
The flower baskets at the big chair
Rog, Laura and Don
big bee
A view from below

High Point, North Carolina
The "Home Furnishings Capital of the World" is crowded with furniture manufacturing operations, pier wall bargain hunters, even a Furniture Discovery Center. So it should be no surprise that High Point has taken the lead in the big furniture battle with not one, but two giant chests of drawers.
The original chest of drawers was built in the 1920s by the High Point Chamber of Commerce. The twenty foot tall building-with-knobs served as the local "bureau of information." In 1996, the building was completely renovated and converted into a 38-foot tall Goddard-Townsend block front chest. A real chest was used as a prototype -- it can be viewed in the Lobby of the local visitor information center.

 Two gigantic socks dangle from a drawer, officially symbolizing "the city's hosiery industry." 

We did notice the for sale signs.  I have read that someone has purchased the building as office space and will maintain the outside as the chest of drawers and renovate the inside.
 We have to wonder how High Point officials felt when Furnitureland South, way out near the interstate, threw up their own chest of drawers -- over 80-feet tall. It's not freestanding, and is an attachment to a big furniture store, but c'mon... it's twice as big!
Since the fabrication technology exists, the next step is obvious. Turn every building in downtown High Point into a piece of American Colonial furniture.

We had great fun finding our BIG stuff. 
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