Posted in

Exploring Outdoor Adirondack Chair History

Exploring Outdoor Adirondack Chair History
Posted in

Picture yourself sitting in a comfortable chair, surrounded by the beauty of nature. Whether on a porch, by a lake, or in a garden, the outdoor Adirondack chair is an iconic symbol of outdoor leisure. But have you ever wondered about the origins and history of these beloved chairs?

From their origins in the rugged Adirondack Mountains to their widespread popularity today, prepare to discover the fascinating tale of a seat that has become synonymous with relaxation and rustic elegance.

The Birth of Adirondack Chairs

The Adirondack chair owes its creation to Thomas Lee, an ingenious craftsman from Westport, New York. In the summer of 1903, while vacationing at his summer cottage in the Adirondack Mountains, Lee sought a comfortable outdoor seating solution for his family. Dissatisfied with the available Victorian furniture, he decided to design a chair that would be sturdy, comfortable, and capable of withstanding the rugged elements of the region.

After sketching and refining his ideas, he created the first prototype of what would become known as the Adirondack chair. The chair boasted a slanted backrest that provided excellent lumbar support, wide armrests for resting a book or a drink, and a gently sloping seat that offered a relaxed seating position. It was simple yet elegant, constructed from locally sourced materials like knot-free slabs of eastern hemlock, which lent it a rustic charm.

original Adirondack chair

Originally called the “Westport Chair” by Lee, the key difference between the chair and the later Adirondack was the slatted design. The seat and back of the Westport chair are made of single pieces of wood, with no slats.

Satisfied with his creation, Thomas Lee placed the chair on his lawn, where it beckoned guests and family members to relax and enjoy the beauty of the Adirondack Mountains. Little did he know that his simple invention would captivate the hearts of many and become an enduring symbol of outdoor living.

Spreading Popularity of Adirondack Chairs

Word of the remarkable chair soon spread, and Lee’s friend, Harry Bunnell, a skilled carpenter, recognized its potential. Bunnell asked Lee for permission to build and sell the chairs, and Lee agreed. Bunnell began producing the chairs under his own name and patented the Westport chair after improvements in April 1904. The chairs quickly became popular with locals and tourists alike.

BunnellPatent Westport Chair
BunnellPatent Westport Chair patent

Photo Credit:

As demand grew, other craftsmen in the region began replicating the design. Since the Adirondack Mountains are better known than the small town of Westport, New York, people gradually started calling it the Adirondack Chair. The chairs became synonymous with the Adirondack region, adorning lakeside cabins, mountain retreats, and sprawling lawns.

In the 1930s, a Massachusetts businessman named Irving Wolpin acquired the patent rights from Harry Bunnell. Under Wolpin’s guidance, the popularity of the Adirondack chair soared. The chair’s design was modified slightly, using more accessible materials like cedar and pine, which allowed for mass production. It became a staple of outdoor furniture across the United States, particularly in coastal regions and summer retreats.

Modern Adirondack Chair Designs

Over the years, Modern Adirondack chairs have evolved to suit different tastes and needs. While the classic design remains popular, new variations have emerged, including Adirondack rockers, folding chairs, and bar-height models. Modern variations embraced alternative materials such as recycled plastic, metal, and other weather-resistant options. However, the core elements of comfort and timeless design remained at the heart of each iteration.

Here are some of the key characteristics that make the outdoor Adirondack chair stand out:

  • Slanted Backrest: The outdoor Adirondack chair features a slanted backrest, carefully designed to provide excellent lumbar support. This ergonomic design feature allows you to relax in a comfortable seated position while enjoying the outdoors.
  • Wide Armrests: These spacious armrests provide ample room for resting a book, a refreshing beverage, or simply lounging with your arms comfortably positioned.
  • Gently Sloping Seat: The outdoor Adirondack chair features a clever design where the front of the seat is positioned higher than the back, creating a gentle slope. Many Adirondack chairs also have a contoured seat front, offering additional knee support. This thoughtful contouring enhances your comfort and makes the chair perfect for extended periods of relaxation.
Modern Adirondack Chair Design
Foldable Adirondack Chairs
  • Durability: Outdoor Adirondack chairs are built to withstand outdoor elements. Wooden versions are often treated with weather-resistant finishes or made from naturally durable woods to ensure longevity. Plastic and composite versions are designed to resist fading, cracking, and warping.
  • Folding and Stackable Variations: Some Adirondack chairs are designed to be foldable or stackable, making them convenient for storage and transportation.
  • Accessories: To enhance the comfort and functionality of Adirondack chairs, you can find a range of accessories. These include seat cushions, headrest pillows, ottomans, and even built-in cup holders or side tables.

How to Enjoy Your Comfy Adirondack Chairs

The design of the outdoor Adirondack chair makes it adaptable to any terrain. You can use the chairs in various outdoor settings, including gardens, patios, beachfront, and even rocky terraces. Their timeless design seamlessly blends with different architectural styles and natural landscapes, making them a versatile choice for rustic and contemporary outdoor spaces.

Read on the Porch

Create a cozy reading nook by positioning a Vintage Poly Adirondack Chair in a quiet corner on a shaded porch. Add a small side table to hold your favorite books and a soft cushion for comfort.

Sunbathe on the Beach

Strategically position the Vintage Folding Adirondack Chair on the beach, facing the water to maximize your view and create a comfortable space for sunbathing.

Relax by the Pool

After swimming, sit in the Classic Folding Adirondack Chair and have a cold drink.

Party in the Garden

5-Piece Reclining Adirondack Chair Casual Set can be used to accommodate guests during outdoor events such as weddings, garden parties, or even outdoor concerts. Their comfortable design and versatility make them an excellent seating option for large gatherings.

Picnic Outdoors

Take the Versatile Folding Adirondack Chair on camping trips or picnics to enjoy the great outdoors in comfort. Set them up around a picnic blanket, allowing you to relax, chat, and savor delicious meals in a comfortable seating arrangement.

Gather Around the Fire Pit

How about hosting a casual backyard barbecue with your friends? Arrange Traditional Adirondack Chairs around a fire pit to create a cozy and inviting space for socializing.

The popularity of outdoor Adirondack chairs can be attributed to their exceptional comfort, versatility, durability, and cultural influence. As a timeless symbol of outdoor relaxation, these chairs continue to captivate individuals, offering a comfortable space to unwind in nature’s beauty.

Join the conversation

Free Shipping | 5 Year Warranty | 30 Day Return