Thomasville Attractions and Sites
The Big Chair
The present Big Chair was completed in January 1951 near the site of
the first Big Chair. The first Big chair was constructed in September 1922.
The original chair was 13 feet 6 inches tall. At the time, Pathe News
produced a newsreel of its construction which was shown in movie houses
across the nation. This chair made the cover of the New York Times Magazine
with a picture of 1920s evangelist, Billy Sunday, standing on the seat.
Unfortunately, this original chair was constructed of materials which deteriorated
over time. The wood was heart of pine while the seat cover was made from
the hide of a huge Swiss steer . By 1936 the chair had been dismantled
as an eyesore.
Thomasville, "The Chair City," remained "Chairless" until Thomasville
Chair Company, now known as Thomasville Furniture Industries, sponsored
with the City of Thomasville and the Thomasville Chamber of Commerce, the
building of the present Big Chair. Thomas Johnson and C. L. White, Jr.
designed this reproduction of a Duncan Phyfe dining room chair. Salem Steel
of Winston-Salem put together the steel framework and Thomasville artist,
James Harvey, crafted and fitted sections of wire mesh over the framework
to produce the shape of the chair. Harvey used a teaspoon to apply a coating
of one-fourth to one-half inch thick mixture of water, cement, and sand.
He used a palette knife to apply a layer of granite dust to obtain a smooth
finish. The chair frame's leaf and bead design were done freehand. The
Chair's frame is painted to resemble Honduras mahogany and the seat to
suggest upholstering in gold-and-maroon striped damask.
The Big Chair is 18 feet in height and stands on a 12 -feet high base
of Indiana limestone. The Chair is exactly six times larger than the original
Duncan Phyfe chair located in the Smithsonian. Local firefighters periodically
assist visiting dignitaries and celebrities into the Big Chair's seat.
In the last few years the Chair has been featured on Good Morning, America,
in a Shoney's commercial and by the MTV network.
Tourists can easily find the Big Chair located on the Square in Thomasville
by taking the Hwy. 109 exit of either Interstate 85 or Interstate 85 business
loop (US 29/70).
Near the Big Chair
Bandstand reconstructed in 1983
North Carolina's oldest Railroad Depot constructed in 1870 and on
the National Register of Historic Places.
Southern Railway's Red Caboose located next to the Depot.
Murals depicting scenes from Thomasville's past are located on four
buildings in the downtown area
Other Historic Sites of Thomasville
Fair Grove Church and Cemetery -located at the intersection
of Old NC 109 and Fair Grove Road south of Thomasville, oldest known Methodist
Church still in existence in Davidson County.
Thomasville Baptist Orphanage, Mills Home -located in the western
part of Thomasville, the first branch of the Baptist Children's Homes of
North Carolina. In 1884, John Mills who had been Superintendent of the
Masonic Orphanage at Oxford, North Carolina, organized the Orphanage Association
with only eight members, who contributed one dollar each. Mitchell Cottage,
the first cottage built for girls, is still standing and in use, the oldest
of some nineteen on the Mills Home campus.