Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rocky Brook Chair Shop

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.


Unknown said...

Pete, that is sooooo cool. The universe has spoken. :)

Bill Palmer said...

Surely, the universe has spoken,Pete. I would have had goose bumps walking into the chair room. I appreciate your forward thinking about chair making, but certainly it must feel good to have a reminder of the past so close at hand. Onward and upward!

Peter Galbert said...

Thanks Bill and Caleb,
it certainly feels like home. I just hope it's not in the "Shining" way!!

Patrick Tipton said...

This post reminds of Steve Job's well-publicized Stanford commencement speech, where he talks about not understanding all the points of connection in your life except in retrospect. I think it is amazing that your journey brought to Mr. Burpee's old residence.

I love the detail on those birdcages - particularly the gutter across the front of the seat.

Keep the posts coming, they are always enjoyable!

Peter Galbert said...

thanks! It does seem a bit like destiny, but I'm not one for superstition, well... except for my lucky monkeys paw key chain!

jaupnort said...

Peter, just returned from a trip through the Appalachains where the present gave Jodene and me plenty of beautiful color with a generous portion of chair type history to represent the past.
Visited several chair makers, Curtis B. included.
I am maybe more inclined toward interest in our past but contend you can't be a chair maker and not appreciate our heritage. And I will say as you add a few more grey then white hairs, heritage will become more vital to you.
But for now keep up the great new ideas and I have to schedule a session to take advantage of both the past and present. Those Birdcages tip me over the edge.
John A

Peter Galbert said...

thanks for writing! I am reveling in the history of the place.

wilser said...

I enjoyed your blog and your chair collection - keep up the good work !!! I have gathered a few chairs together and you may wish to view then : please type into google " Lincolnshire chair museum " and click on Flickr site , best wishes William.