I bet you don’t ever look to see what’s on the bottom side of your furniture. I didn’t. Not till today.
The featured photo on this post is the bottom side of a most special piece of furniture, the rocking chair that belonged to my deceased brother. It has its own story (read only if you want tears).
David’s chair is maybe one of the most important memory item in my house. Why did I decide to look underneath?
I didn’t. On Saturday I moved all my living room furniture off the dirty carpet, so I can get it steam cleaned this week. All that furniture is piled in the adjacent tiled space. I lifted David’s chair and sat it on the couch, and it’s almost in my face from where I sit at my adjacent table I work from.
While eating breakfast today I noticed first the stencil text that looks like
943 R Duxbury “Interesting” I thought, might that be the name of the craftsman who made it? Below is a faded seal with what looks like a manufacturer’s name, with about a third of the letters faded. The top word which shows just “TEMP__” is most surely “TEMPLE” but below– is it “SHARP”? Finally I made it out to be “STUART” as a guess.
A pretty good one. Most of the results I find are sale pages for Temple Stuart chairs, tables, and hutches, or antique sites where people send info in hopes of finding they have a rare piece of furniture.
Sadly this kind of stuff referred to as “American Brown Furniture” and is not very valuable. That’s not my interest, David’s chair is quite banged up. I think one of my dogs gnawed on the arm rests.
I found the 2010 obituary for Donald Stuart who had been President of the Temple Stuart Furniture company; it’s not clear here if he was the founder or if it was a family business. He lived in Baldwinville, MA. There is a timely image of a 1967 ad looks like it is is in the height of American Brown Furniture era:
As a sideline, Stuart’s bio in Furniture world leads me to the Bernice Bienenstock Furniture Library on Highpoint North Carolina:
With more than 5,000 furniture and design specific volumes, The Bernice Bienenstock Furniture Library is the largest furniture specialty library in the world. The rare book collection contains volumes published since 1640 and includes a collection of the original works of 18th century furniture masters Chippendale, Sheraton and Hepplewhite, as well as a complete 26 volume set of Diderot’s Encyclopedia published in 1776.
This is one of the few, if not the only place in the world where design professionals, scholars, students, and the public can don a pair of white gloves and examine the original works of the pioneer designers in our industry.
The library also contains rare drawings and furniture details. It is a treasure trove of inspiration, information and illustration for anyone interested in design.
Maybe the most curious link came to an EPA site report on the Temple-Stuart site on Baldwinville MA, this is most definitely the location of the Temple-Stuart furniture makers, it’s where my brother’s chair came from!
The Temple-Stuart site is a 23-acre property with five adjoining buildings and a garage located in a largely residential area at 4 Holman Street, Baldwinville, Massachusetts. Baldwinville is one of four villages which comprise the Town of Templeton, whose population is 7000. The Temple-Stuart facility is approximately three eighths of a mile from the center of Baldwinville.
Building A (the “Mill/Assembly Building”) is a two-story, 12,500 square foot (ft2), concrete brick building located on the southeastern portion of the property, which reportedly contained a tool shop, dryer rooms, and a boiler room. Transformers were formerly located on the lower floor of the southwestern portion of the building.
Building B (“the Frame Stain Shop”) is a 7,500 ft2 two-story concrete brick and wood building adjoining the western side of Building A. Most of its windows are broken, and much of the roof and roof vents have begun to collapse. Building B reportedly also contained a storage room and boiler room.
The site was first occupied in 1884 by Holman and Harris (H&H), a manufacturer of wooden containers, including pails, tubs, and buckets. In 1909, H&H ceased operations and vacated the site. In 1910, the Temple-Stuart Company began manufacturing wooden furniture at the site. Temple-Stuart constructed various buildings and additions to existing structures.
The company is thus named for the Stuart Family and its location is near Templeton, MA. The company was started in 1910. Since Donald Stuart’s obituary stated he was born in 1925, then I guess his father started the furniture company which built David’s rocking chair.
The reason the Temple-Stuart facility is on the EPA site is because in the 1990s they found underground storage tanks with fuel and benzene in them, and thus it was designated an environmental remediation site.
That’s about the end of my investigation. I have no idea what “943 R Duxbury” is — I imagined it was the name of a person who made it? Just an inventory code? The old version of a QR-code? There is a Duxbury in Massachusetts but it is 100 miles from Baldwinville.
I asked my sisters if they knew much about the chair. The color was similar to the maple bedroom set I had as a kid- two dressers, a bed frame/headboard, and I think a clothes tree. I do remember that it was the furniture my dad had as a kid. I thought maybe the chair was part of the set, but my older sister (whose adult son still uses the old dresser) said no, that the chair was a gift for my Mom when David was born.
So after getting curious about the information on the bottom of an old chair, I have no further insight into the family store, but do have a few tangents of arcane information about a family furniture company from Massachusetts, whose legacy is left now as a hazardous waste site.
One never knows where curiosity paths will lead you, and sometimes, it’s just the time spent searching that matters more than what you find.
You are a regular Antiquues Road Show font of information and memory today.
When my family got involved with living in intentional communities back in the early 70s, all our bits and pieces of furniture got integrated into that flow of people and objects. One piece was a beat up old mahagony dresser from the 40s that I remember learning to pull myself up on one drawer level at a time as I grew up in the 50s.
It lived out its life, and when it was time for it to return to the Great Lumberyard in the Sky, a talented and dear woodworking friend made a box for me of the wood. He inlaid my initials in the top using abalone found at the beach.
This box has never been more than an arm’s length away in my room ever since, conjoining as it does all of my pasts. It is, truly, a Memory Box, as your chair is a Memory Chair for you.
Thanks for your storybox memory, Sandy. I don’t have a lot of saved stuff, but each one has the degree of special meaning.
I was curious too and looked up Temple Stuart furniture. It is maple and categorized as Early American. I’m not a fan of that style. I vaguely remember that we had 2 of those chairs. That’s about all I can contribute other than I’m happy to hear about your cleaning efforts. Keep it up until our visit in July;-)
I live in Washington state. When my best friend of forty nine and a half years past away I kept his old rocker that sat by the wood stove. We both warmed our selves many times in that old chair over the years. Now I sit in it on my back porch watching my children and grandchildren at Sunday dinner gatherings. Amazing how a old chair can hold such feelings and fond memories. My friend has passed away but never far very away. I will charish them both forever. Stixnstonestwo
Thanks for sharing your rocking chair story, Rex. But you know the chair triggers the memories which hen send the feelings; share the stories with those children and grand children (I guess you do) and it shall keep on doing it.
I currently live in the old Stuart family home! I was looking for furniture of theirs to put in the house and came across your post# thought I would share!
That’s wonderful to hear and thanks for this news. If you see anything like the rocking chair, I’d love to see photo.
I have a chair exactly like that one
I’m a lot late, but are you still looking for Temple-Stuart furniture? I have 2 chairs that I would sell, they are beat up: surviving my brother and I for the 60’s and 70’s. Hope to hear from you!
I have my chair! I was not looking for more chairs, but more information about the Tempe-Stuart brand.
Good luck finding a buyer.
This message is for Liana;
I have a Temple Stuart dry sink cabinet that I am selling. The main cabinet is black, while the base and curved edging around the top are brown. It has 2 storage doors with the floral motif stenciling done in autumn colors. There is one shelf inside the unit. The top of the unit has an embossed leather-like finish. It originally belonged to my aunt who purchased it from a Attleboro, MA furniture store. If interested, or want to see photos, please contact me at healthed915 at gmail.com Thanks!
I have an 8 piece dining set, WIndor style chairs, 8 of them, table is 72 x 36 w/2leaves and a hutch that measures 48 x 20 deep. I love the set but am moving and need to sell….I just came across this post when researching temple stuart. Don’t know if you are still interested,
Yes! Could you please email me at Liana.email@example.com
Would love to see pictures!
I am currently restoring an old rocking chair that was my great grandmothers, to give to my father. It is the exact chair you have in the picture, on the bottom of the chair it is marked 943-R Maple. So I am searching to find out a little more about the chairs history.
That’s nice to know and please share anything else you find. I thought it was part of my dad’s childhood bedroom, he was born in 1926
What year do you think the chair was made?
I checked my stories, apparently the chair was a gift my Dad gave to my Mom when my brother was born, which was 1953. So sometime before then is my new best guess. This is the photo of the underside:
Secret Messages Underneath a Chair flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)
I came across this blog site while researching a set of table and chairs that have most likely sat in our family cottage since the mid – fifties. These chairs and table are as solidly built as can be…they just don’t make these quality products anymore. 4007-11 Duxbury is printed on the bottom of each chair. Curious to what that means. Irregardless- these chairs and table have had many meaningful conversations and have beared witness to many happy family times through the years….
Hi Holly, welcome to what has become a gathering place for people who own that classic brown furniture (noted in a followup post about my blog tuning into some kind of brown furniture market space). This started with my own curiosity of the Duxbury stamp and numbers on the bottom of an old rocking chair. I’m happy to hear of their durability and value to your family.
My rocking chair has a code of 943 R Duxbury and Duxbury appears in other comments on dining sets and china cabinets.
As noted in a comment from Krystle Duxbury was a line of furniture made by the company. The closest explanation came in a comment in this thread from Sam Stuart, a descendent of the family that owned the company that built this furniture. He wrote:
Thanks for finding this post and joining in the Temple-Stuart sharing.
Lianna was actually the one I was replying to….sorry to have messed that up! Am I allowed to do that on your blog? Lol! She (I read) lives in the old Stuart home and is interested in furniture. Thank you Alan.
No need for apologies it’s me who messed up not seeing all the comments. You are allowed to anything on my blog especially if it helps connect people with common interests… if it works please send photos!
Hi Alan! I’ve been trying to find information on Temple Stewart hard rock maple kitchen chairs as my sister was throwing away a set of four that were in her basement when she bought the house. I think they’re called paddle back but I’m not sure I’d like to send you a picture if you can give me any information at all about them and also possibly what you think they could be worth. They are very rugged, well-made, and in good condition.
I don’t know if this picture will come through this way. If not they may be called paddle back.
Hi Marge. I wish I could help, but I think you might have me confused with an antiques expert. I just wrote about the Temple Stewart chair I owned asking the same questions. People with such expertise might find their way here, as I guess this comes up now in web searches.
Sorry, but keep trying. And please share what you learn.
Are they marked Duxbury by any chance? As I have the Temple Stuart Duxbury dining table and just 2 chairs.
sorry about the links! Here they are- they need tlc, someone could make an offer!
I have a 80 Duxbury china cabinet. This was past to me from a friend who is in his mid 60’s. He said his mother had it as long as he could remember, so he remembers it when he was a kid. So that has me wondering if the numbers in front of Duxbury could be a count on the furniture as they made it? Would love to know more about this piece.
As a complete amateur on antique furniture, I cannot help much. I would doubt it is a serial number like a counter, but likely it would be unique to identify where/when/by whom it was made? Good luck finding out.
I have the 909-A DUXBURY dining table and some chairs. Have not found out too much about these? However the stories I have read are very interesting. I have not refinished any of them leaving them as they are.
Temple Stuart was indeed a family furniture company. in fact, it was my family’s. I’m assuming the code on the bottom of the chair is essentially marking the style, which I assume is Duxbury, and the color and make and model for tracking through the build process. I’ll have to ask my dad. He was born in Baldwinsville, and my grandfather was part of the company until it went out of business in the early 90’s. They were over leveraged, and had to sell off all of the assets. I still have family in that area, and the water tower is still on the site of the original factory, but it’s passed through different hands and is now a brownfield site as you’ve mentioned.
This is amazing and unexpected to hear from the family. Thanks for finding my blog post (how did you know of this) and for seeking information about the chair I own. The numbers found were mostly a curiosity, especially as for having the chair so long, I never knew they were there, like a bit of a secret story.
Just hearing from you is reward, thanks.
So wonderful to find a family member of the stuart furniture company. I have the Duxbury 909-A Dining table and a few chairs. Any info you may have on these pieces would be wonderful to hear about.
I grew up in Baldwinville and knew most of the Stuarts. The factory employed many local people and so sad that it is gone. When I was young the local relationship to the factory was informal. On several occasions my mother would have a table that needed refinishing. She would call one particular person who would stop by our house, load up the shabby antique and take it to the factory. It would come back with a new factory finish. My dining room table is one of those items that got a pick-me-up at the Temple Stuart factory even though the table was made in Boston circa 1820!
BTW, Sam Stuart, who were your parents?
Robbie Stewart, who I went to high school with showed my brother a foundation off of route 140 in Princeton Mass along the side of a little river that powered a water wheel. Said that the family owned that years ago and that was one of their first buildings.
Having just drove by there minutes ago I thought about it and looked up to see if I can find any information about the Stewart’s starting somewhere before being in Templeton. The EPA had to clean up pcbs or some other toxic on many people’s lawns in Baldwinville . Something like 18 in of soil had to be removed. Sad
Thanks for sharing that bit of the Stewart story, Mike. I think I had come across he EPA report but never went as far as tracing the business from earlier. Again, this all came from curiosity of the marking on the bottom of my brother’s chair. There’s traces of those things, like hidden dorway, likely all around us.
I just acquired a Temple Stuart ROCKINGHAM table I am refinishing (literally RIGHT NOW). I am planning on selling!!!! my email is firstname.lastname@example.org it is GORGEOUS…. if you would like photos email me!!!!
I am in New Jersey! Can deliver for a small price as I have family in MAss.
I feel like I should get a commission 😉 Just kidding.
It’s fun to watch people with an interest in “American Brown Furniture” find their way here. Buy! Sell! Trade!!
I also have a Duxbury rocking chair. The underneath is stamped with 945 R. Also, written by hand “298”. I’d love to find out more about it has well.
I just sanded and stained one myself, very comfortable for even a husky guy like myself too bad value decreased, what would you estimate it at for one very similar to yours? I also love the history side of picking & poking and getting stories from people it’s half the fun.
Value is in the possession of the item! I have no idea of monetary value. Mine has some deep likely dog made scratches in the arm.
Hello,just came into this blog while on break. I have a Temple Stuart Rockingham corner hutch that was given to me by my godmother. We have sold our house and was looking for information on it. Need to sell it. It has a really neat glass in the doors,looks like it bubbles out. Anyone interested??
I have four dining room chairs which belonged to my parents, and which we used when I was a kid (1960s). They are a set, though not all are marked. Those that are are “995 DUXBURY” and I also see the Temple Stuart imprint. Nice to know the history of these chairs!
Thanks for stopping by, Robert, and sharing your Temple Stuart number… we are off by only 52. Cheers!
I have the the dining room table stamped Duxbury along with 2 chairs.
It’s the name of the line that particular chair is from. You have a Temple Stuart Duxbury chair. There were different lines of furniture. I know this where I’ve been researching a hutch I’m currently refinishing. I’m having a hard time with the hinges on mine so in my search I’ve found out the stamp on the back is the particular line of furniture. I have a Temple Stuart Rockingham hutch. Hope this helps and if anyone knows anything about the hinges on these things please let me know. I’m needing to replace them but don’t know what kind of hinges these are.
Thanks Krystle, that makes more sense than my crazy theories! A Model number. Using that as a search term I find… my chair but the exact same one listed for sale in Minnesota.
Sigh. It is worth $25. But the value of my chair is much more for what it means to its original user.
Many thanks again, all of you Temple Stuart furniture fans who seem to find their way to this blog post.
Hello. Just came across this blog. I realize it is2022 now-thought I would reply to you anyway. I am in the process of refinishing a Rockingham hutch also and will be replacing the hinges I believe. Are you still looking for hinges. These are in good shape and I could pass them along to you.
I recently acquired 6 fiddleback chairs with the stamp Rockport 124 on the bottom. No maker.
Any thoughts or answers?
I’d really appreciate any help I can get!
P.S. They may be for sale. (by me)
No idea, I just blog here about my own chairs. Looks like Temple Stuart did have a Rockport line.
Pictures always help
This has been the coolest commentary thread to read through. I’ve inherited my grandparents old Temple Stuart Rockport kitchen table and benches. I’m in the midst of researching about it because I’d love to refinish it. But I can’t figure out if the top is laminate or not. It has sentimental value so I really don’t want to mess it up. Anyone happen to have any knowledge on this?
Hi Lindsey, it’s some funny oddness of the internet has made my exploration into one old rocking chair become a destination for people looking up Temple-Stuart furniture. I’m afraid I cannot answer your question but maybe some else will. I hope you find an answer and regardless, share what ever you decide to do with your table,