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

David’s Chair flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

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:

From Furniture World Magazine

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.

Featured image:

Secret Messages Underneath a Chair
Secret Messages Underneath a Chair flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. 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.

  2. 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;-)

  3. 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

    1. 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.

  4. 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!

    1. 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!

    2. 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!

    3. 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,

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

    1. 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!

  7. 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.

    1. 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.

  8. Hi Alan,
    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.

    1. Hi Sam,

      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.

  9. I just acquired a Temple Stuart ROCKINGHAM table I am refinishing (literally RIGHT NOW). I am planning on selling!!!! my email is shainamue23@gmail.com 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.


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