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SK Pierce & Sons, Gardner, MA

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    Posted 8 years ago

    (3 items)

    I am wondering if anyone knows anything about these chairs. I have two of them, both in good condition, although one has had some repair to one arm. They both have labels underneath that read "S.K. Pierce & Sons, Gardner, Mass. No. 3350. They came from a home of a woman who was 102. I assume they were in the family for most of her life. Research only shows that the company was in business until around 1937. I can't seem to find anything online that even looks similar. Could they have been custom made? What were they used for? The finish is very dark (walnut?). Any info would be very helpful. Thank you so much.

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    1. myhermitude myhermitude, 8 years ago
      The style of the two dining arm-chairs would be brace-back Windsor style chairs. They have a somewhat ornate Farmhouse style, I think. I could be wrong, and am definitely not educated in Windsor chairs, but to me the style looks like from the 1920's - 1930s ( ), judging from a small dining set I had from that era many years ago (like this set: ). The stylized treatment of the top makes me think 1930s. I've looked up some information on the founder, below. I didn't find any info on your chairs, but the history of the chair business of SK Pierce & Sons is interesting. Because the name includes "& Sons", I would guess yours were made after the 1880's, as his son Franklin became associated with him in the running of the business in Sylvester's latter years (before the founder's death in 1888), and assumed control in 1888 on his father's demise. Have fun researching.

      From _History Worcester County, Massachusetts, Embracing Comprehensive History County Its First Settlement Present Time, History Description Its Cities Towns; Volume 3_ Marvin Abijah P. (Abijah Perkins) (Originally published around 1879, Crane Ellery Bicknell, ed.):

      According to the above book (Google search) concerning that company, it was owned by Sylvester K. Pierce, who, "beginning with small means, has built up an extensive business, which he has conducted alone with great success and consequent affluence." This was information about chair companies in Gardner, MA which, it states, had its beginnings in 1805 in the private dwelling of Mr. Comee. It appeas that SK Pierce company was the 3rd leading chair company, producing 135,000 chairs (at a value of $1.00 apiece) and employing 75 people at the time of the book's first publication before or in 1879.

      From _Historic homes and institutions and genealogical and personal memoirs of Worcester county Massachusetts with a history of Worcester society of antiquity v. 4_Crane Ellery Bicknell, ed (Originally published in 1907):

      Sylvester K. Pierce was born April 11, 1820 in Westminster, the 7th child of Jonas Pierce and AchsahHaynes. His father died when the boy was 3. His mother remained on the homestead until he was 11. He attended the district schools, and was used to hard work from an early age. At 11, he went to live with his paternal aunt and her husband, John Sawin, also of Westminster. Three years later, he moved, and lived with another paternal aunt, and her husband Abraham Sawin. At age 15, he left the farm to work at the chair factory of Elijah Putnam of Gardner, MA. After 2 years he left to work at the chair factory of Joel Fairbanks of Putnam, MA until 1 year after the company moved to Ashburnham. At age 20, Pierce worked for Steven Taylor, a chair manufacturer in South Gardner for 5 years, then bought out the business under his own account (according to S. Gardner Historic Society page, it was sold to Sylvester and Jonas Pierce), running it from 1845 - 1888 with great success. The large business Sylvester Pierce built up continued under the management of his son, Frank J. Pierce who was associated with him in his business in his latter years. Sylvester K. Pierce was one of the wealthiest men in the county and owner of more property in Gardner than any person. A member of the Congregational Church, he died in Gardner on January 28, 1888. Sylvester K. Pierce had a number of children...

      There are photos and information on the SK Pierce building in Gardner,
      Gardner (Images of America) by South Gardner Historic Society (Aug 1, 1995)
      (Do a Google search for "Sylvester K. Pierce" and it will bring up the googlebooks page on it.) It mentions that their factory building in Gardner was destroyed a year after the closing, by fire on February 25, 1938, and that the Standard Chair building now occupies the site (book published in 1995).

      Other info:
      S.K. Pierce Mansion a.k.a. "The Victorian"
      From the web:
      Gardner, Massachusetts
      The S.K. Pierce Mansion is an 1875 mansion that once belonged to S.K. Pierce of the S.K. Pierce & Sons Chair Company. He was a wealthy man who hosted several famous guests in his lovely 26-room home. After his death, the house changed hands several times...

      Evidently they had a building in Brooklyn NY at one time:

      25 Carroll Street, a 5-story masonry and heavy-timber structure, was constructed in 1898 overlooking Brooklyn’s industrial waterfront. Built by Francis Romeo, a community leader, importer, and president of the Brooklyn Macaroni Company, it housed his pasta manufacturing business for almost 30 years. From the late 1920’s through the 1960’s the building was home to several furniture manufacturers, including S.K. Pierce & Sons.

      Gardner, MA was once known as "chair city"
    2. paintmom, 8 years ago
      Wow! Thank you for all the information. It is so good to know the history behind the chairs. I have no idea what their value is, perhaps they are very common and not worth much at all? I guess I will need to do some further research to see if I can find out what they might be worth. Thanks again for the detailed info.
    3. SIMPLYOLD SIMPLYOLD, 8 years ago
      Hello, paintmom oh my. I was so excited to see your post I found these chairs at a local thrift shop mine are a tad different no arms and slat is different and no lable but, the whole design is the same ...from SIMPLYOLD
    4. summerknight summerknight, 2 years ago
      All this information on these chairs is fantastic. Thank You ! I have two of them with and without arms, from my grandparents. This information has answered a lot of questions for me. I don't have any clue of value, but it doesn't mater I love the chairs. For anyone interested you can check out my show and tell Grandma & Grandpa's Chairs !

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