History of The Adirondack Chair

adirondack chair history / adirondack chair origin

Have you ever wondered where the Adirondack chairs that adorn nearly every front porch or backyard came from? What does Adirondack even mean? If you have ever caught yourself sitting in one of these beautiful chairs and wondering just how they came about, read on to discover the history of Adirondack chairs.

What Does Adirondack Mean?

Adirondack comes from the Adirondack Mountains in northeastern New York. These mountains run from St. Lawrence River Valley to the Mohawk River Valley and remain mostly natural and unsettled. Adirondack National Park is the largest publicly protected land in the contiguous United States.

Where Did Adirondack Chairs Come From?

In 1902 Thomas Lee, a Massachusetts-born man from a wealthy family who spent summers vacationing in the Adirondack Mountains in Westport, New York, invented the Adirondack Chair. Lee, a former Harvard student, wanted to create a chair that would work just as well on the beach as it would on the side of a hill.

His chair featured wide armrests, a curved, high back, and a slanted seat. His design was incredibly unique because both the seat and back of the chair were fashioned from single wood pieces.

Lee, worried about his good friend Harry Bunnell's ability to survive the winter, decided to give Bunnell the plans to the Adirondack chair to produce them in his carpentry shop. Bunnell patented the design as the Westport chair. They rose in popularity steadily after 1904 due to its durability and versatility.

Meet the Modern Adirondack

The modern Adirondack chair is a version of the Westport chair that is easier to mass-produce because it is not made from a single, knot-free wood plant. Carpenters have tweaked the Westport chair design over time. The modern Adirondack chair features a wood slat design but has retained wide armrests, slanted seats, and high, curved back.

Many carpenters also create Adirondack lounge chairs that stem from Irving Wolpin's1938 lounge chair design, which features the slanted seats. The Adirondack chair has a high curved back but with smaller slats and an adjustable seat for lounging.

This version of the Adirondack chair is the most popularly replicated today. However, you can find at least one of the modern traditional versions in most backyards.


Tete-e-Tete seating in the Adirondack style is also becoming popular. This type of seating is intimate and encourages one-on-one conversation. The chairs are often joined in the middle by a small table; however, you can also achieve the effect using a small end table between two Adirondack chairs.

You can also find Adirondack loungers, gliders, porch swings, counter height outdoor dining sets that include a table too, and rocking chairs.

The Adirondack style is famous nationwide but is common in New England and the Northeastern United States where the design originated. An Adirondack chair remains one of the best and most versatile outdoor furniture pieces on the market because of their smart design and comfort.

Adirondack furniture is most beautiful and rustic when made from solid wood. Still, you can also find eco-friendly designs made from recycled plastic.

If you choose solid wood Adirondack chairs or furniture, make sure to check out our blog on how to maintain and care for your wooden patio furniture.

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