Gardner, Massachusetts was once home to the Heywood-Wakefield Furniture Company, a large furniture manufacturer that specialized in handmade, wooden chairs, alongside other manufacturers of fine furniture and boy oh boy, the city has not forgotten. In fact, they have solidified their nickname, “Chair City” with a number of giant novelty chairs that have been installed throughout the years.
One of which, known as the Bicentennial Chair is now a tribute to the city’s once glorious manufacturing history and sense of competitive spirit. The first giant chair in the city was built in 1905, claiming to be the largest in the world before being replaced in 1922 by another novelty chair built by Heywood-Wakefield, that stood over 13 feet tall. After the weather took its toll on the latest record holder, it was demolished in the 1970s.
The Bicentennial Chair was built in 1976, once again taking the title from a usurper that had sprung up in North Carolina. The new world record holder stood over 20 feet tall and bore the name, “Chair City” on the backrest. The wooden chair was condemned in the late 90s after being afflicted with a serious rot problem, but it was saved from destruction by some generous locals.
Today the Bicentennial Chair has been dwarfed by a number of novelty seats, but it is still a beloved landmark among locals who make sure that the giant piece of furniture doesn’t disappear forever.
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In front of the Helen Mae Sauter Elementary School.