Westport Chair Manufacturer: Harry C. Bunnell (American)
Designer: Thomas H Lee

Patented 1905

American Decorative Arts

Westport chairs were manufactured in the small village of that name on Lake Champlain, New York, beginning about 1904. The design originated with Thomas Lee, who had a summer cottage there. He let a local carpenter, Harry Bunnell, borrow one of his chairs to use as a model to make others to sell, since Bunnell claimed he was in dire financial straits and needed to find a source of income. Eyeing the lucrative market for convalescent furniture needed to accommodate the hundreds of tubercular patients who flocked to the Adirondacks for the "wilderness cure"—weeks of quiet rest and fresh air spent on the porches of sanatoriums and cottages—Bunnell applied for a patent for the design in 1904 and was awarded one in 1905. The rustic furniture produced in the Adirondacks from the Gilded Age to the Great Depression is evidence of the cultural tradition of Americans escaping from confining cities to the great outdoors to hunt, fish, recuperate, or relax.




38 3/8 × 39 1/2 × 40 in. (97.473 × 100.33 × 101.6 cm)

Credit Line

Mr. and Mrs. Frank J. Coyle, LL.B. 1943, Fund

Accession Number



20th century


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



Farmington Antiques Show, 2002. Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.
  • Edward S. Cooke, Jr., "Refined Vernacular: The Work of Kenneth Fisher," Woodwork (February 2005), 57, ill
  • "Acquisitions 2002," in "The Original Work of Art: What It Has to Teach," special issue, Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2003), 137, ill
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

Westport chairs


Stamped on back near top: PAT. JULY. 18. 1905/MFG. BY. H. C. BUNNELL/WESTPORT.N.Y.

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