New England – Adirondack Chairs

On my travels I find myself drawn to the photogenic porches and harbour areas with colourful outdoor wooden chairs known as Adirondack Chairs. Also known as Westport or Muskoka Chairs. Here in the UK they are often referred to as Maryland Chair.

Originally known as the Westport Chair it was designed by Thomas Lee, a native of Massachusetts, in 1903 while he was holidaying at his summer home on Lake Champlain in Westport, NY, in the Adirondack Mountains.

Wanting to provide outdoor furniture for himself and his family he came up with different designs that could provide a comfortable lounging experience.

After tests he chose a final design that was constructed from 11 planks of wood and had the recognisable wide arm rests. Lee’s friend, shop owner and carpenter Harry Bunnell asked if Lee had any ideas to make some extra money during the long East Coast Winter who encouraged Bunnell to build his new outdoor design and sell them to local residents.

The chairs were snapped up and in 1904 unbeknown to Lee, Bunnell applied for a patent on the design.

There are different variations of the chair with some designs having rockers and others with a lounger version.

I have taken pictures where I have seen them and to me it evokes New England although I have seen them all over America.

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I do think that I am too short to sit very comfortably in one because of the degree of the slope. I bought a coffee and sat outside on the decking where all the chairs were Adirondack. I put the coffee on the wide arm (which could really have a cup holder to prevent spillages) and then manoeuvred back gentility back and literally slid down the slope to the back. My feet just stuck up over the edge and then I could only just reach the cup of coffee. All this whilst trying to be cool and fit in!

The most ironic location I saw a couple of Adirondack chairs was at the top of Mount Washington in a storm. You couldn’t see more than four feet in front of you and these two chairs were stoically on duty waiting for the storm to pass.

Mount Washington Visitor Centre
Up in the clouds

I have always been impressed that these outdoor seats are so accessible and the owners so trusting of the general public not to walk away with one of their choice but thankfully some of them have restraints on them to prevent this happening.

There are some available here in the UK for around £75 – £100 for a wooden version from Amazon but how I wish the UK had Walmart!