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Thomas Lee gave his original plank chair design to carpenter friend Harry Bunnell, who patented it (as illustrated here) in 1904, without telling Lee. Bunnell made selling the chairs a successful business for himself (with no profits to Lee), into the 1920s, from his shop in Westport, New York.

3-Adirondack
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The original Adirondack chair was called the Westport plank chair(for the Lake Champlain town in which it was first made). Originals are rare, but reproductions, like this one shown here) are available from Clarks Outdoor Chairs.

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The classic Adirondack chair has inspired countless variations, including those with seats and backs that curve rather than keep the original’s starkly angled, flat back and seat. Here’s a curved example (found at Garden Fever). This model adds a cut out to hold a beverage – perhaps an unnecessary detail, considering the broad, flat armrest is already quite capable of supporting a cup.

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What would the inventive Thomas Lee think of the molded plastic versions of his iconic Adirondack chair? Maybe he would put his feet up on the matching plastic stool.

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The plastic Adirondack chairs are inexpensive (about $22) and easy to find at local hardware stores. They’re even stackable, as the candy-colored display on Hankins Hardware’s sidewalk shows us.

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For me, both the back and seat of the Adirondack chair should be relentlessly long and straight (and joined at an angle deep enough that it’s a bit hard to get up from, making it all the more cozy to sit in). My notion of the proper design probably has something to do with enjoying such chairs with family, as seen in this ancient picture taken at a friend’s place in the Catskills. Summer lounge chairs are nothing if not made for memories.

2-Adirondack orig _drwg
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