The History of the Adirondack Chair

When you think of relaxing outdoors on your patio or deck, you often imagine yourself sitting in those famous Adirondack chairs. They are an ideal addition to an outdoor space because they are comfortable, stylish, and durable. But...where did they come from? This instantly recognizable style had to come from somewhere, right?

Introducing Thomas Lee

The very first Adirondack chair was created in the year 1903 by a gentleman named Thomas Lee. Lee was attempting to outfit his Westport, New York country cottage, and he just couldn’t seem to find any comfortable outdoor furniture styles that he liked or thought would be suitable.

A Partnership Forms

A local Westport carpenter, Harry Bunnell, was a friend and hunting buddy of Thomas Lee. Bunnell was looking for a little side work since it was the off-season, and Lee encouraged him to make a few of his prototype chairs. Bunnell recognized a good thing when he saw it, so he went ahead and applied for a patent on the design without telling Thomas Lee. Bunnell received his patent in 1905, and he made a pretty penny selling what he called a Westport Chair which he made out of hickory or hemlock. Lee never received any of the profits from Bunnell’s enterprise, but it is unknown whether he even asked for any compensation for the essentially stolen design.

An Evolution Occurs

Over the following hundred years, the chair has been adapted over and over again. The chair that you generally see now has three to seven slats making up the backrest instead of the single piece of knot-free wood on the original prototype. This is due to the fact that finding such a large piece of knot-free wood can prove difficult and expensive. It is much easier to manufacture the slats instead. Also, many of today’s chairs are often made out of a less expensive pine or even plastic or recycled materials.


No matter the original origins and designs, the modern Adirondack chair has become remarkably popular. This is no surprise however because the simple, clean lines are comfortable and look great in just about any setting. They are unpretentious and can be right at home in a rustic cabin, but they are also chic enough to belong on the porch of a Hamptons-style estate.

Looking Back

For whatever reason, Thomas Lee didn't think the wicker garden furniture or the wrought iron outdoor furniture that was popular during his time was acceptable for his New York cottage. And while we may never know why he didn’t appreciate those styles, we can all appreciate the glorious chair that was created instead! Born out of necessity, this classic chair has become a standard in outdoor living. At The Best Adirondack Chair Company, we take as much pride in our chairs as Thomas Lee did in his. The cedar chairs that we produce come with a 10-year workmanship guarantee. We have been making them since 1955, and we are confident that you will love your beautiful hand-crafted Adirondack chair.