Chadds Ford Historical Society

Revisiting History

Chadds Ford Days Spotlight: Windsor Chairs

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Take a look at our latest interview with one of our Chadds Ford Days demonstrators, Jim Stevens. Jim will be demonstrating the making of Windsor chairs, which are both a work of art and an important part of our American heritage. Make sure to stop by and see Jim during Chadds Ford Days this September 12th-13th.

Tell us a bit about yourself, where did you grow up, etc.?

I grew up in Connecticut, in New England. I moved down to Delaware about 20 years ago. I took courses in New Hampshire on Windsor chair making. I learned how the chairs were made in 18th century and why they last so long. It was through this class that I learned to make them myself.

How did you end up in Chadds Ford Days, and how many years have you attended?

I’ve attended Chadds Ford Days for the past 4-5 years. I heard about it though Scott Gold [read his Chadds Ford Days interview here], and then I called and got in as a demonstrator. The show is a very enjoyable experience and the kids love it. There is a lot of geometry involved in making Windsor chairs, and so the kids are also interested to see how they’re made.

What is your craft and how did you get started in it?

My craft is Windsor Chairs. I got started in it because I saw an advertisement for them in a woodworking magazine, and it was then I started taking courses on them in New Hampshire.

How did this play into the lives of colonists/what is its historical significance?

The Windsor chairs originally come from England. When they made their way over here, Americans started making them. There were many different variations on them, for example the Sack Back. They were widely purchased, then spread to different designs. Many were made in Philadelphia, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Windsor chairs were used in Continental Congress, also.

What do you want people to remember about your craft?

That they are handmade and that they’ll last forever.

Are there any interesting facts/common misconceptions surrounding it?

A common misconception is the reason the chairs last so long. Most people don’t know it’s all in the feet. And the wood I use is red oak, eastern white pine, and maple. Each wood is used for a different part of the chair.

What in particular can we look forward to seeing at your booth this Chadds Ford Days?

I will be demonstrating crafting the back spindles and the arms. I may also be demonstrating crafting the seats, which are all hand carved.

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