Camps and Twigs – Adirondack Style
Starting in the 1870s the Adirondack region in upstate NY became a tourist destination for New York City and Chicago residents. Hotels sprung up catering to those looking to experience the wilderness and railroads were built to make it easier to reach these destinations. Soon the wealthy industrialists saw the Adirondacks as their summer playground.
Compounds of rustic buildings were built into grandiose family compounds for some of the most prominent families in America including Vanderbilt, Whitney, JP Morgan, Durant and Rockefeller. A distinctive architecture style emerged as these Great Camps were built in a primitive, rustic appearance blending into the wilderness. Elements such as whole, split, or peeled logs, bark for wallpaper, roots, and burls, along with native granite fieldstone, were used to build interior and exterior components. Massive fireplaces and chimneys built of cut stone are also common within the Great Camp architecture.
The furniture and decorative elements in these Great Camps mirrored the architecture and environment. Twigs and roots were common elements in chairs, tables, beds, picture and mirror frames. In addition Craftsman/Arts and Crafts style furniture was commonly used to furnish these Great Camps.
The classic “Adirondack chair” with its slanted back and seat and spacious arm-rests was first created by Thomas Lee in 1903. A local carpenter, Harry Bunnell, began making the chairs and in 1905 patented them as the Westport chair. For about twenty years, Harry Bunnell made the chairs out of hemlock, painted them either dark brown or green, signed them and sold them for $4.00 each. A signed Bunnell chair is extremely hard to find and worth thousands of dollars.
There were more than forty Great Camps in their heyday. Many Great Camps burnt down, fell into disrepair or were dismantled as they became too expensive to maintain. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the significance of these Great Camps was recognized. Eleven Great Camps are now on the National Register in an effort to preserve them for future generations.
Just search for adirondack or twig on Dig Antiques for some great stuff.
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We have been enjoying our time back east catching up with family and friends. The heat and humidity have been in full force this summer but that hasn't stopped us. We've been antiquing, visiting shops such as the Middlebury Antique Center in VT and we exhibited and shopped at the Rhinebeck Antiques Fair. We have also had the chance to meet a couple of the Dig Antiques Shop owners and advertisers in person for the first time! What a treat it has been to get to see people in person and not just as an email or web address!
While at the Rhinebeck show, we walked around talking to dealers about Dig Antiques. In comparison to last year, there were many more dealers that had heard of Dig Antiques; many indicating they regularly go digging. And, there were a number of dealers that were very interested in opening a Shop at Dig Antiques. Some were looking for another outlet besides eBay and some were looking to have a web presence without the hassle and intimidation of having a full website. We're looking forward to seeing more Shops open in the coming months.
We hope your summer is filled with sunshine, friendship, and of course, antiques. Stop and visit us in booth 37 at Manchester Pickers Market on Monday Aug 9 or on the porch of the log hotel at the Adirondack Museum Show on Saturday-Sunday Aug 14-15.
Tom & Sheila Baker
We Dig It...do you? Dig Antiques - Real stuff without the fluff.