I've taken some field trips recently and have learned more about the chairmaking that took place on our property. The original builder, in 1800 was named Newton Burpee, and he built chairs in the Rocky Brook Chair Shop across from the house. It was a stream powered operation. The part of the land with the stream was later sold into conservancy.
Here is a painting of the chair shop that I came across at the local historical society.
You can see the tree and wall on the left side of the painting are still quite clearly visible. The foundation is still quite intact, but is more difficult to see in the photo.
Here is another painting from the other side, showing the dammed up pond.
And here is the pond now.
This wheel was in the shed behind the house and came from either the chairshop or the mill next to the house.
As you can see, Sterling was quite the hub for chairmaking. Here is the chair room at the historical society. It was a delight to walk in this room.
The curator was clearly excited to have a chairmaker back in town and offered to let me take the chairs to my shop to study etc...very kind.
The chairs below were produced by Newton Burpee in the shop.
Here is his brand.
They also had some lovely Birdcages in the display.
I love seeing the slenderness of the parts. Below is a map of all the chairshops in Sterling in the 19th century. Each shop is a red dot. The curator of the museum said that wherever there was a stream, there was a shop.
Usually, I'm not one to revel in the history of the chairmaking, preferring to think that my role is about the future of the craft, but living in this house and this town has certainly brought the continuum of it all into focus.