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“Make-do” Windsor fan-back side chair

Probably Southern New England



35 in x 20-1/2 in x 21 in


Tulip poplar seat, oak crest, maple legs and stretchers, hickory spindles

Credit Line

Historic Odessa Foundation, gift of Mrs. Clarence Solomon

Accession Number


Condition Notes

See “Comment” text.


The donor (born c. 1888) lived with her parents for several years in the Collins-Sharp House (before it was moved from Collins Beach to its present location in 1962 and restored). At the time of the donation, Mrs. Solomon lived in Chester, Pennsylvania.


Sustained use transformed this Windsor side chair into a “make-do” chamber chair.  Years after it was made, an owner cut a circular hole into the seat and flattened the tops of the H-stretchers that tie the legs together. Evidence of a few iron nail remnants on the chair suggests that a board was once fastened to the tops of the stretchers to support a chamber pot.  Its transformation also included removal of the two outer posts that socketed into the crest rail near the ears at each end.  It is likely that at least one of those turned posts was damaged, and the other was removed for symmetry.  That the chair back remained intact without these more substantial elements testifies to the inherent strengths of the Windsor chair design.  After removal of the chamber pot board, the chair was given a coating of a dark-pigmented stain.

The original features of the chair, namely the shape of the crest and seat and the leg turnings, suggest its probably time and place of origin.