Pull up a chair...

I'm glad this sign was recently put up...

...because I always wondered what these ruins were doing in someone's yard. They're the ghost buildings of what was once a thriving furniture factory.

The company-owned hamlet of Chichester was founded by the brothers Frank and Lemuel Chichester. With an abundance of hardwoods and the water power of crisscrossing streams, this area of the Catskills was the perfect spot to situate their factory. They specialized in chair and cradle making. Old timers would have you believe that every chair on the east coast came out of Chichester.

picture from the Empire State Railway Museum

The factory was later purchased by William Schwarzwaelder, maker of fine office furniture. Workers enjoyed recreational buildings, a general store, post office, school and church - all company-built, owned and maintained.

Decades later, the great depression devastated the business and it went kaput in 1939. The rest of the hamlet no longer had an owner, and would be doomed if it didn't find another. The village, at the time comprising of 44 houses and buildings, was put up for auction on October 28th, 1939. The hamlet was purchased at the auction and has been in the hands of private owners ever since.

Hopefully, these remnants of the past will stay standing for another 150 years.


  1. I read through all your pages....Keep up the good work. I love this kind of stuff and very interesting.

  2. You know, you just don't see enough people named Lemuel these days.

    The town also makes for an interesting challenge to libertarian/small government philosophy. Handing over government functions to private corporations can lead to serious problems if the market starts acting funny.

  3. Beadnfun, welcome! I'm lacking in oddities of late since I haven't been up north in a while..but stick around!

    Bitterly... hiya! You raise an interesting point. I'd really like to know who owns the hamlet now, but I'm afraid I'll be swimming with the brook trout if I delve too far.

  4. We were doing some research on a walnut platform rocker.
    It has a patent date in late 1870s for F. Chichester.
    The chair has an adjustable back with a locking cam.
    That chair was likely manufactured at this site.


    1. I'm sure you are right, Henri! Thank you for visiting :-)

  5. One report noted that the Chichester Chair & Cradle factory was turning out nearly 3000 chairs per week.

    Cradles too, at 300 per day!:
    Poughkeepsie Eagle July 9, 1873

    "The cradle he is now about to manufacture is an improvement over all others, and he will not begin to be able to supply the demand for it, although he is making stupendous preparations. It is patented and the patent fully protected. Even now the factory is turning out three hundred cradles a day, which does not half supply the demand."

    Not only were they productive, but very creative, getting many patents. Here is an 1973 patent:


    Our platform rocker has 4 patent dates covering the years 1876,78,79,81, so the chair was likely manufactured after 81 but before 1884 when the factory was sold.

    Thanks for the great photos

    1. Wow, Henri! You have some mad research skillz :-) Thank you for sharing!

    2. Doesn't appear to be the same Chichester - I don't know that they were ever in Milwaukee...

      BTW: I still have some interesting stuff about Chichester here: http://chichesterville.net/articles.htm

    3. Hi RicDragon! Thank you for sharing your website - It's fascinating! I have a house in Chichester and appreciate learning more about this remote and beautiful place, particularly its history.

  6. Incredible story there. What happened after? Take care!
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