Ever wonder how Hickory Chair got its name when we make so much more than just chairs and none of them are made from hickory wood? We have to turn back over 100 years to brothers George and WaldronBailey who moved to Elkin, North Carolina from New York to begin a chair factory. Their family owned a Pin or Dowel factory and the young entrepreneurstook their knowledge and began a dining chair company named the Elkin Chair Company in 1900. Within a year George purchased the rest of the company from Waldron and the George Bailey Chair Company was established. In a few years George invited local Elkin businessmen to join him and the company became the Surry Chair Company.
In 1911, George learned of Hickory, North Carolina's interest in replacing woodworking jobs lost to the demise of the wagon industry with furniture. Hickory investors unanimously voted and invested their own money in the fledgling dining chair company that had only one style that it made. Hickory Chair Manufacturing Company was established on September 19, 1911.
It is unfortunate that we have no catalogs prior to 1930. From the picture in this ad and this photograph from ebay, we knew this was the first chair. Even then we made this chair with a pitch of the back that provided lumbar support and a top rail that was curved to fit the natural contour of ones shoulders. Queen Anne styling was popular in the first decades of the 20th Century.
As we prepared our new collection to honor 100 years of furniture making we began with this chair. What made it relevant for today? Certainly the Queen Anne styling is not currently the rage today, but the benefits of the features did! It was the comfort of the shape of the back and the practical scale of the chair. From this inspiration our team created the new Surry Chair to launch the 1911 Collection. Its quality has allowed the piece to become a modern day antique.
Our modern version incorporates the comfortable back splat and contoured top rail. Unlike the antique that inspired it, we created a custom engineered 8-way hand tied spring system that provides great comfort and support. The Queen Anne styling was made clean with tapered legs with stretchers. Our modern version is made in your choice of mahogany or ash wood with endless fabric, nail, leather and finish options. It is crafted in this Hickory, North Carolina workroom where the vast majority is made... in fact over 87% of our entire product line is made in this American workroom. We do not make fabric, leather, hardware, stone, glass, mirror or metal and have to purchase these materials as well as intricately hand carved pieces. The rest is made here by almost 500 talented artisans and craftsmen.
We were very excited about this transformation when an email arrived from Jill Thomas. Jill lives in California and was considering parting with her Grandmother's dining set that she had inherited. She wondered who made the pieces and turned over a chair to see. The labels were torn on each chair but she quickly knew they were made by Hickory Chair. A simple search on her computer and she learned that Hickory Chair was in business still making chairs. She contacted us and we were thrilled! She had no idea that Hickory Chair was a 100 year old company. Her grandparents were married in 1928. Her father remembers the set as a boy. He remembers that they always had them versus being purchased as he was a boy. She is researching to find out, if she can, if the set was a wedding gift or handed down to them. The set is in great condition. We hope that IF she ever decides to part with them she will give us the opportunity to purchase them for our archives. The set is heirloom quality which has made them sustainable.
We are trying to research the dining table for her as well. We are not sure but are still researching it. Since we do not have catalogs prior to 1930 it has been difficult to research. If you have any pictures or catalogs from 1911 to 1930 we would love to have them for our archive.