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Adirondack Chairmaker

Craftsman turns hobby into his business

April 18, 2010
By JOEL DiTATA, The Leader-Herald

GLOVERSVILLE - What started as a favor has turned into a business for Peter and Christine Schoonmaker.

Peter Schoomaker has handcrafted his own Adirondack Westport chairs since 2004, and has done home-improvement projects for more than 20 years.

Although he had been involved with the building-trade industry for countless years, he didn't think to build the Westport chairs alone.

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/Joel DiTata

Peter Schoonmaker is shown in his workshop where he constructs Adirondack Westport Chairs on North Main Street in Gloversville.

"My wife [Christine] always liked the chairs," he said. "So I started making them for her."

Before long, the chairs were more than a diversion. He and his wife now operate their business out of their garage workshop next to their North Main Street home in Gloversville.

Peter Schoonmaker has always had more than one "paddle in the water" in his life.

He was a Gloversville firefigther for 20 years and has had more than 500 articles published for several magazines since 1982. He said he plans to release a book this summer.

Christine's desire for Adirondack Westport chairs had become another "paddle" for him.

The perfect combination of comfort and craftsmanship is designed into each chair he constructs. The dimensions of his chairs measure to the exact original Westport chairs patented in 1904 by Henry Bunnel in Westport, Essex County.

"It's a nice diversion [from my remodeling], and it's still something I want to do," Schoonmaker said.

The duo constructs several different styles, colors and types of wood to fit the costumer's needs.

The chairs range from rockers to standard chairs, from red to green and from mahogany to oak. They also test their own work to see how their chairs deal with different conditions. The Schoonmakers have left two chairs outside for the past six years to see how the different types of wood react to the different weather.

The Schoonmakers have distributed chairs all over the Northeast. They have sent chairs to places such as Cape Cod, Long Island, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Connecticut.

"They [the chairs] create their own parameter," Peter said.

Peter Schoonmaker said the couple will travel to approximately four trade shows this summer. He said other than advertising around the area, trade shows are where the couple will sell the most chairs.

Fulton County Regional Chamber of Commerce & Industry President Wally Hart said Fulton County is lucky to have someone as skilled as Schoonmaker in the area.

"It's an iconic chair that really says Adirondacks," Hart said. "They're really beautiful pieces of furniture."

Hart said the Schoonmakers have attended the Adirondack Museum's Rustic Furniture Fair in Blue Mountain Lake and hopes they will attend the art and show fair this June.

"Being able to tell people a great craftsman in Fulton County is producing these ... it's great to have him," Hart said.



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