A stick-back chair doesn’t sound very comfortable, but the basic design of the Windsor chair, developed in the south-east of England in the early eighteenth century, turns hard wood into a comfortable perch adaptable to many uses. The design also allows local artisans to adapt the construction to make use of easily-available native wood species. Abe Crouse, who runs the Lawrence Crouse Workshop along with his wife Diana, explained that “each chair will have four different types of wood. The legs and cross braces are hard maple, which provides strength. The traditional seat is pine, but locally we use poplar. The curved bow in the back is oak that is steamed. We use hickory for the back spindles because they have a bit of flexibility that makes it more comfortable.” Crouse, who took over the company from his father Lawrence about eleven years ago, says the construction of all of the company’s furniture follows the hand-built processes used since the 1700s — all of the joints are wedged or pinned without nails, for a chair that is designed to last for decades — or centuries.
Crouse also commented on the finish of his chairs. “Typically, Windsor chairs are painted, because of the different woods used in the construction of a single chair. We have a process that we use to finish the paint so that it has a well-worn look right out of the showroom. Or we can paint it so that it looks new. It’s a flexible design that can look right at home in both historic homes and modern buildings.” Crouse says the shop will typically produce two dozen chairs a month. “We also build our own bed and table designs and will do custom pieces, but these chairs are our bread and butter.”
The Lawrence Crouse Workshop is holding a special open house on Nov 12 & 13 (Sat & Sun) 10 – 5 (both days) to celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary. The workshop & showroom are located at 155 Chance Ln, Kearneysville WV.
Outside of the open house, showroom hours are by appointment only (call 844-692-7645). Website: LawrenceCrouse.com. Crouse’s bed, tables and chairs are also sold at the Valley Furniture Country store in Stephens City VA (5958 Valley Pike, just south of the drive-in theater); the store is open Fri, Sat & Sun (see website for hours – ValleyFurnitureCountryInteriors.com).By Staff Contributor