The Evolution of the Old Hickory Furniture Company


A Timeline for the Company

For further historical information on the Old Hickory Furniture Company please see www.oldhickory.com


The early years


Circa


1880. Two or three individuals were known to have made primitive chairs in their barnyards out of hickory poles in the Monrovia and Morgantown, Indiana area. A "factory" was started in an abandoned church in Martinsville on Pike Street. Billy Richardson is credited with constructing hickory chairs and starting the Old Hickory business.




1892. Old Hickory was owned by MB. Crist of Indianapolis and George Richardson.




1895. Old Hickory sold to William F. Churchman and Edmond L. Brown. All products are signed Old Hickory Chair Company. All of their chairs are woven with strips of hickory.



Edmond L. Brown


1898. The Old Hickory Chair Company is briefly owned by F. E. Wood who also operated a local lumber yard.


1896-1905. Arts and Crafts designer Charles Limbert acted as an "agent" for the Old Hickory Chair Company




1899. The Old Hickory Chair Company is again briefly owned by Ed Brown and new comer Ralph Barrett.


1901. The 1901 Old Hickory Chair Company catalog shows an extensive collection of hoop chairs, rockers, settees, tables, garden furnishings and complete log cabins.




1902. Carl Nutter, W.A. Shireman and EL. Shireman are now owners of Old Hickory.



The photo shows typical early Old Hickory pieces with tapered posts and hickory bark weaving.


1906. Shipped dining chairs to the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone. The chairs are still in use today.


1908. The Old Hickory Chair Company is sold to the Patton Family of Indianapolis. They operate the company successfully until its demise in the 1970s.




1913. Shipped about 50 rockers to the Grove Park Inn in Asheville for their verandas.


1914. The 1914 Old Hickory Chair Company catalog shows the evolution of Old Hickory furniture including dining chairs, tables, desks, settees, bedroom furniture, gazebos and other assorted furnishings. Side chairs at that time sold for $2.50.




1917. Sold 24 rockers to Mrs. Henry Ford of Dearborn, MI.


1920. Crag's Lodge in Estes Park opened with Old Hickory chairs in their dining room. The chairs are still in use today.


1921. The company changed their name to the Old Hickory Furniture Company on February 8, 1921. All signatures including brands, and paper labels now read Old Hickory Furniture Company. Painted hickory furniture was also introduced at that time.




l930s. The company introduces the Bruce Tag. Itís a dime size copper tag that is nailed into many of their pieces of furniture. The number on the inside of the tag is the year the piece was made.




1931. The 1931 (called their 40th anniversary) catalogue offers innovative designs and upholstered furnishings. Furniture now included lighting, corner cupboards of all sorts, porch gliders and other furnishing heavily adorned with spindles. Wood slats on chair seats first appear.




1935. Old Hickory furnished much of the furniture for FDR's Warm Springs (GA) presidential retreat.


1937. The Old Hickory Furniture company expands their line of furniture in hopes of acquiring a share of the North American furniture market. The 1937 catalog offers their traditional rustic furniture as well as more furniture with dimensional pine wood. An open weave pattern appears on their seating. Keg table and chairs appear.




1939. The 1939 Old Hickory catalogue offers The American Provincial line of furniture in chestnut and pine. They also title their new line "Rustic Modern".




1941. Modern designers including Eric Boline, Berman Brueing, Cannis Froy and Russel Wright collaborate with Old Hickory to produce a "modern" line of Old Hickory furniture. The forms include classic sweeping curves and modern textiles.




1945. Grove Park Inn was remodeled. The GPI used Old Hickory "Americana" furniture for the lobby. The sofas and chairs are still in use today.


1955. Shipped furniture to Camp David (MD), the presidential retreat.


1957. The 1957 Old Hickory catalogue (number 76) offers the American Provincial, the Natural Oak and The Old Hickory Rustic lines of furniture. Side chairs at that time retailed for $25.50 each. Furniture from each of the above groups reflects the prevailing modes of the day.




1965. Ramada Inn Corporation purchased Old Hickory from the Patton family and became the main producer of furniture for the Ramanda Inn franchises. This furniture used no hickory saplings.


1968. A fire in the original building is attributed to the loss of many of the company's historical records.


1969. Indiana University ordered 5000 solid oak chairs for their library from Old Hickory. This was the largest single order at the time.


1978. Old Hickory closed their doors in Martinsville, IN.


1982. Bobby Welsh purchased the company and re-opened it in Shelbyville, IN.


1989. Old Hickory was purchased by Craig Campbell, Chris Williams, and Bill Morrison. The first order for the new owners was a $1 million order from Disney World.


1994. Old Hickory entered the world of store fixtures with the Galyan's Sporting Good Stores based in Indianapolis. The company has done several other fixture jobs since.


1994. First Rainforest Cafe was opened with Old Hickory Chairs & Barstools. It was located at the Mall of America. Several dozen Rainforest Cafes were opened around the world...all with Old Hickory furniture.


1995. A history of Old Hickory Furniture Company is published. The book was updated in 2002 to include the 1901 Old Hickory Chair Company catalog.




1999. The Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis, Indiana, hosts the exhibit RUSTIC TRADITIONS: INDIANA HICKORY FURNITURE. Old Hickory donated many different furniture settings to the museum.


2005. The building that housed the original Old Hickory Furniture company in Martinsville burned to the ground.




2005. Disney's Wilderness Lodge was renovated with Old Hickory furniture.


2006. "Hickory Furniture" a coffee table book is published.