ITEM LIST - FOLDER #10 - Photographs,  taken by D.H. Ramsey Library staff, December  2006
Note: Photographs by Helen Wykle, for D.H. Ramsey Library, UNCA Special Collections.
Box Folder Item Description Thumbnail
1 10 woo10_001 Interior of the Chair Shop sales room with patron (Fern Hayes) and shop assistant seated on Woody chairs. The open door to shop may be seen in the background. woo10_001.JPG (216408 bytes)
    woo10_002 View of the interior of the craft shop showing the tools and storage shelves and locust floor of the shop. woo10_002.jpg (233429 bytes)
    woo10_003 View of the interior of the craft shop. woo10_003.jpg (235253 bytes)
    woo10_004 View of the interior of Woody's Chair Shop in with the many hand-made shop tools and storage innovations he used while creating his chairs. woo10_004.jpg (156985 bytes)
    woo10_005 Some of the other wood craft derived from the "waste" wood in the shop and crafted by a variety of artisans who worked with and studied with Arval Woody. Rarely did any wood become truly "waste" if it could be used to fashion useful wood products. Maple, walnut, cherry, oak, and other woods are used to create the many utilitarian objects woo10_005.jpg (200011 bytes)
    woo10_006 View of the photographs and framed letters on the wall of the Chair Shop. The framed photograph at center is Arthur Woody, Arval's grandfather, and the upper right partial view of a photograph shows the presentation to John Kennedy of the two chairs for his children by Governor Terry Sanford. woo10_006.jpg (140334 bytes)
    woo10_007 View of the photographs and paintings on the wall of the Chair Shop. Photograph is of Charles Woody, Arval's father. The painting, to the right, is taken from a photograph, and depicts the original Chair Shop with water-wheel, where the first chairs in the family were made. woo10_007.jpg (164651 bytes)
    woo10_008 Arval Woody selecting a chair back for notching. woo10_008.jpg (198092 bytes)
    w00009 Arval Woody feels his pocket for a pencil as he evaluates a chair back for creating a notched pattern. woo10_009.jpg (228508 bytes)
    woo10_010 Close view of Arval creating a notch in a chair back from a pattern. Injury to Arval's finger had occurred just days before this image was taken. In the over 45 years he has been making chairs, injuries have been very few. woo10_010.jpg (181695 bytes)
    woo10_011 Chair backs in preparation for shaping into the unique notched pattern used by Arval Woody and his Shop for some of the Colonial chairs. woo10_011.jpg (165371 bytes)
    woo10_012 Shop tool that has been modified to create the first shaping of the chair legs. Note the 1800's date on the Levi Houston mortising machine. woo10_012.jpg (248727 bytes)
    woo10_013 Arval Woody demonstrating shop tools used in his craft. woo10_013.jpg (216601 bytes)
    woo10_014 Arval Woody demonstrating the polishing of a chair round in an adapted lathe-finishing machine. woo10_014.jpg (254432 bytes)
    woo10_015 View of the shop floor which utilizes square blocks of locust sunk into earth as flooring. Originally the floor was dirt which quickly became difficult as dust was a constant problem and sawdust could not be cleared easily. The square posts of locust wood were sunk into the shop floor and over the years the surface of the wood has taken on a smooth finish as feet and sawdust have worn down the surface of the floor to a high finish. woo10_015.jpg (280424 bytes)
    woo10_016 Arval Woody demonstrating the use of his unique lathe used to form the chair rounds and uprights. woo10_016.jpg (238838 bytes)
    woo10_017 Arval Woody in his shop with assistant demonstrating the use of the lathe to produce chair rounds.  woo10_017.jpg (251693 bytes)
    woo10_018 Chair backs in a hand-made press that helps to  retain uniformity of curvature in the backs after they have been dried in the press molds. Chair rounds are stacked in chair behind press. woo10_018.jpg (212709 bytes)
    woo10_019 View of the wood-storage area with chair-backs in press molds. The backs are placed in the press molds to dry after they are taken from a soak in a hot water bath. The hot water bath makes the wood pliant and allows the gentle curve of the chair backs. woo10_019.jpg (224382 bytes)
    woo10_020 A broad view of the interior of the work shop showing the exhaust and venting system close to ceiling and work areas and tools, below. woo10__020.jpg (230490 bytes)
    woo10_021 Interior view of shop with raking view of storage areas to the right of shop entry door. woo10__021.jpg (222585 bytes)
    woo10_022 Interior view of shop tools, showing lathe used to create the chair rounds. woo10__022.jpg (168890 bytes)
    woo10_023 Interior view of the shop showing drill used to create the holes for the joins for the chair-leg rungs. woo10__023.jpg (194280 bytes)
    woo10_024 A Levi Houston machine used by the Woodys to create mortises for the chair backs. The tight tenon and mortise fit of all the chair parts is an important hall-mark of all Woody's chairs. The machine is dated Jan. 28, 1873 and Oct 17, 1882.

The wood-working equipment seen here, was invented by Levi Houston, who owned a foundry and machine shop in Montgomery, Pennsylvania at the close of the nineteenth century. The company he founded, Houston, Smith and Company was renamed the Levi Houston Co. in 1877 or 1878. Levi Houston was dead by 1897 and following his death, his company merged to form the American Wood Working Machine Company. It is remarkable that this machine has been in operation for at least 125 years or more. It was adapted for use in the Woody Chair Shop, but just when it came to the Spruce Pine shop, is not known.

To read more about the company that made the machine:

woo10__024.jpg (168759 bytes)
    woo10_025 Interior view of shop tool, the Levi Houston mortise machine, which "punches" mortise slots i the chair uprights for the insertion of the "tenoned" chair-backs. woo10__025.jpg (191891 bytes)
    woo10_026 Interior of shop. Close view of storage bins holding dowels and chair-backs. woo10__026.jpg (178283 bytes)
    woo10_027 Interior of shop with table saw in the foreground and other tools used in crafting chairs, visible in the background. woo10__027.jpg (191780 bytes)
    woo10_028 View across finishing belt sander to back room used for finishing chairs. woo10__028.jpg (180825 bytes)
    woo10_029 Finishing tools against wall of the interior of the shop. woo10__029.jpg (182027 bytes)
    woo10_030 Chairs used to hold turned rounds for chair uprights and rungs. woo10__030.jpg (224470 bytes)
    woo10_031 Interior of workshop with chair legs in process and lathe and polishing equipment under window. Lathe used to polish and sand rounds. woo10__031.jpg (249486 bytes)
    woo10_032 Interior of workshop with chair legs in process and lathe and polishing equipment under the window. Chairs holding uprights and rungs in the foreground. woo10__032.jpg (250263 bytes)
    woo10_033 Interior of workshop with chair uprights in process and lathe and polishing equipment under window. woo10__033.jpg (207562 bytes)
    woo10_034 View of interior of workshop across top of wood stove toward entry door. woo10__034.jpg (231464 bytes)
    woo10_035 Close view of locust squares floor with wood stove in background. Chair uprights and rungs on chair next to stove. woo10__035.jpg (212955 bytes)
    woo10_036 View of the locust post floor in the shop with wood stove in center of room. woo10__036.jpg (177423 bytes)
    woo10_037 View up into the ceiling of the shop area showing storage of wood items. Every corner of the small shop area room has been utilized. woo10__037.jpg (192717 bytes)
    woo10_038 View of finishing sanding belt, with empty press in foreground and with finished chair in background. The large tube is used to carry dust and fumes out of the shop.

woo10__038.jpg (200284 bytes)

    woo10_039 Arval Woody's sister, Eleanora Woody Young,  came for a visit with her husband during UNCA's visit to the workshop. She agreed to sit for a portrait. She, like other members of the family, helped in the chair manufacturing business.

woo10_039.jpg (197072 bytes)

    woo10_040 A short drive was made to Arval Woody's home to see this unique cherry coffee table that has the image of a fox or wolf in the grain and to see many of the other wooden items given or traded with other craftsmen. The trip only served to emphasize his extraordinary love of wood and the large network of craftsmen that Arval knew through his work.. IMG_0199.jpg (108340 bytes)
    woo10_041 View of "Fox" table of cherry. IMG_0203.jpg (137730 bytes)
    woo10_042 About one mile from the shop is the home of Arval Woody and throughout the home can be seen many of his crafts, and many of the awards and honors given to he and his wife, Nora, over their life time. This award of gratitude was given to Arval by the Grassy Creek Fire and Rescue, "In appreciation for the devoted years you have spent with us. With this award of gratitude, goes our best wishes and heartiest thanks. Grassy Creek Fire & Rescue. Feb. 22, 1982. Arval's civic engagement is another instance of his pride of place.

woo10_042.jpg (172804 bytes)

    woo10_043 Spruce Pine, in Mitchell County, NC,  where the Woody's Chair Shop is located, is dominated by mica and feldspar mining. High on the mountain approaching Spruce Pine, one of the mining operations may be seen. woo10_043.jpg (110337 bytes)
    woo10_044 Mitchell County is largely rural and the beauty of the region and its rich cultural heritage of craft was one reason the early craft school, Penland School of Crafts was established there by Miss Lucy Morgan in 1923. The school has a national reputation for crafts and starting in 1929 it has supported a residence program for artists. woo10_044.jpg (145547 bytes)
    woo10_045 Today the Penland School of Crafts occupies about 400 acres high on the mountain in rustic buildings, some remaining from the early years when an Episcopal school flourished on the site. The Woody family has long had a connection with the school and Arthur, the grandfather of Arval Woody, was invited there in the early years to provided instruction on chair making. These early chairs by Arthur were typically mountain hickory-cane bottom chairs, unlike the refined Colonial chairs produced by the later Woody's Chair Shop. The practice of using no nails and the close joins for the uprights and chair backs, is however found in both the early chairs and in the later chairs. woo10_045.jpg (152931 bytes)
    woo10_046 Distant views of fog shrouded mountains, open fields, and peaceful quite abound in this mountain-top setting, in contrast to the now, rapidly developing strip-malls that today surround Woody's Chair Shop. While the location of Woody's shop on busy Highway 19, provided access to easy transport and drop-in by tourists, it slowly lost its rural associations as the geography and the demographic evolved. w0010_046.jpg (106876 bytes)

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