A Love Affair With Chairs
Sometimes it’s the smallest comment that sticks with you the longest.
My brother, who lives in Illinois, came to visit this past summer. When he stepped into our two-story ranch house, he slowly surveyed our rooms before announcing, “Boy, you sure like chairs.”
I thought it seemed perfectly normal to have an assortment of chairs placed strategically throughout your house, but after he left, I started counting: a couple of Roycroft-Grove Park Inn dining chairs, a GPI wicker rocking chair, a Gustav Stickley rocking chair, arm chair, straight chair, and settee, and six Morris chairs. Plus, another six chairs around our dining room table.
I think it was the six Morris chairs that got to him…..
To my defense, the last two chairs I brought home were fantastic replicas of Gustav Stickley’s iconic 1901 bow arm Morris chair. Handcrafted by Warren Hile, the matched pair had ended up in a local antiques warehouse. I simply could not leave them there, as they had a near perfect finish and the leather back and seat cushions had the perfect amount of wear. Even up close they looked authentic – even with Warren’s branded signature.
As much as I love Stickley’s design and respect Warren’s craftsmanship, of the six Morris chairs these two were the easiest to let go. I’m currently serving on the board of the Asheville-Buncombe County Preservation Society, and our non-profit organization leases from the city of Asheville the original real estate office of Edwin Wiley Grove. Built in 1909 at the base of Sunset Mountain, just four years before he completed the nearby Grove Park Inn, the office seemed the perfect home for a pair of replica Gustav Stickley Morris chairs. So, before I could change my mind, Leigh Ann and I loaded them up into our pickup truck and drove them into Asheville.
As you would expect, they fit naturally into the 1909 office, in part because they were alongside four 1913 Grove Park Inn oak desks, which earlier this year the Omni management team had agreed to donate to our Preservation Society.
As for the other four Morris chairs here in our house, well, I’m not there just yet….
Until next week,
“Give small things, carefully, and observe the mental processes going along with the act of releasing something you liked.” – Huston Smith, author