chairmakers, Red Boiling Springs
Tennessee Folklife Heritage Award (2009)
In the quiet Jennings Creek community, Louie Newberry (1943- ) has raised his sons Terry (1967- ) and Mark (1969- ) to work alongside him in preserving Tennessee’s oldest family craft tradition. Newberrys were building chairs here before the Civil War, and Louie’s father Dallas Newberry (1892-1989) was the living link between that history and today’s family shop. Dallas built chairs for over 80 years, and his old-time way of doing things lives on in the design patterns, techniques, and standards of workmanship still characteristic of this farm-based shop. Chair timber is harvested and milled on their own land, and some features of their chairs—such as lean posts, hickory bark bottoms, and bent backs—remain little-changed from the 19th century. But Newberry & Sons has also incorporated changes that are in keeping with their tradition, just as they currently seek new ways to find customers and remain a viable operation for the future.