Current Exhibit

Classic Seating: Chairs in 19th Century Alabama

Early Alabama farmers in the 1800s had transitioned from using stools to chairs, usually plain style ladder-back chairs, which were likely made by someone as a sideline to farming. In addition to these utilitarian chairs, many townspeople could purchase at least a few upholstered chairs in a variety of styles. These chairs were produced in the Northern factories by both skilled and unskilled workmen and then shipped to retailers in the South. These furniture factories were first powered by water and later by steam and used circular saws to produce very thin veneers. The use of bandsaws as well as fret-cutting, wood-carving, planing and mortising machines made producing these elaborate designs possible.

Until then, comfortable chairs had only been available to the elite but by the 1840s, a large variety of stylistic choices presented themselves to the middle class. The rich Cotton Belt elite were furnishing their houses with elaborate high style furniture. They appreciated the traditional production methods of the Northern furniture makers using these innovative techniques and new materials. After the Civil War, as Northern hardwood forests were depleted, much of the American furniture manufacture was moved to western North Carolina and Virginia where hardwoods were abundant and labor was inexpensive.

Classic Seating was guest curated by Jeff Benton and features a sampling of chairs in many styles, forms and materials available in the Deep South in the 19th century from the Landmarks Foundation Permanent Collection.

Classic Seating: Chairs in 19th Century Alabama
July 24th - September 30th
Monday - Saturday, 9 am - 4 pm
Loeb Reception Center, 301 Columbus St.
Free to the public