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204 Broad Street
Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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Big Chair ‘retired’ due to condition
Outdoor elements caused it it dry out
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The Big Chair was dedicated on Sept. 18, 2009, in uptown Martinsville. The chair now has been “retired” due to damage from the outdoor elements. (Bulletin file photo)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer

The Big Chair will not return to its spot in uptown Martinsville.

“Based on information we received this week, it has been determined the Big Chair would not be returning for public display,” Jennifer Doss, tourism director with the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp., said Friday.

The chair was removed from its place in The Big Chair Plaza on Church Street last year for maintenance and cleaning, officials have said.

“It was repaired, inspected by experts at Bassett Furniture Industries,” which had donated the chair, and “a decision was made to retire it,” Doss said.

That decision was prompted by the chair’s condition, she said, adding that it had dried out due to the outdoor elements.

Doss said she was not certain who made that decision or where the chair is now. She referred questions to EDC President/CEO Mark Heath, who could not be reached for comment Saturday night.

The chair was made in 2002 of solid ash and protected with a boat-like finish. It was constructed as part of Bassett Furniture Industries’ 100th anniversary. Before coming to rest uptown, the chair had traveled around the country to help open Bassett Furniture stores.

In 2009, Bassett Furniture donated the chair to use as an icon in a Deep Roots campaign, which focused on furniture, textiles and motorsports legacies.

Situated in the Church Street side of the Broad Street Parking Lot, the 20-foot-3-inch-tall chair, which weighs nearly three tons, was envisioned as a tourist attraction and a springboard for tourism and revitalization efforts.

Doss said a series of interpretive panels, currently on display in the Martinsville-Henry County Heritage Center and Museum (formerly the Henry County courthouse), will replace the chair in the Big Chair Plaza.

Information on the panels first will be updated, and then they will be redesigned to give them “a fresh look” before they are weather-proofed to become part of a permanent display in the plaza, Doss said.

She did not know when that would be completed, but Doss said, “The plaza will continue to tell the story of our furniture history.”


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