Newberry & Sons Chairs

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.

Governor’s Arts Awards profile

More Information

  • Alligood, Leon, “Craftsmen make ladderbacks like their dads did,” The Tennessean (July 28, 1992), p. B1.
  • Buchanan, Curtis, “Appalachian Chairmakers: Tradition and Revival,” Woodwork 69 (Jun 2001): 48-53.
  • Cogswell, Robert, Tradition: Tennessee Lives & Legacies (Nashville: Tennessee Arts Commission, 2010), pp. 102-7.
  • ——-, “The Newberry Chair Tradition.”
  • Fugua, Arthur G., “The Old Hickory Rock,” Tennessee Conservationist 38, # 2 (Feb 1972): 8-9.
  • “Grant Helps Newberry Family Continue Chairmaking Tradition,” Arts Tennessee (Fall 2008): 8.
  • Hire, Sandra,” Newberry and Son’s Chairs: The Fifth Generation,” Tennessee Magazine (Apr 1994): 16-18, 22.
  • Montell, William Lynwood, Upper Cumberland Country (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1993), pp. 48-50.