130 Elm Street

Gardner, MA

The Bicentennial Giant Chair

Est. 1905

Gardner, Massachusetts was once home to the Heywood Wakefield Furniture Company, a large furniture manufacturer of fine furniture. Gardner is nicknamed “Chair City” as a tribute to it’s chair manufacturing history and giant chairs that have been installed in Gardner throughout the years.


One of the giant chairs in Gardner, is known as the Bicentennial Chair commonly known as “The Big Chair.” Currently, The Big Chair stands 20 feet tall and it sits in front of the Helen Mae Sauter School at 130 Elm Street.


The first giant novelty chair in the city was built in 1905. It was located at Union Square, about a half mile down the road from where The Big Chair currently sits. Gardner claimed this novelty chair to be the largest in the world before being replaced in 1922 by another novelty chair. This new chair stood over 13 feet tall. After the weather took its toll on the latest record holder, it was demolished in the 1970s. In 1976, the Gardner Rotary Club in celebration of the city’s bicentennial donated a new novelty chair to replace the demolished chair. It was built out of Honduran mahogany wood and stood 20 feet tall with the name, “Chair City” on the backrest. Once again, this chair succumbed to the challenging weather of New England. Then in 1998 and again in 2011, the chair was condemned then proudly restored.


Today, the Bicentennial Chair aka The Big Chair has been overshadowed by a number of giant novelty chairs, but it is still a beloved landmark amongst tourists, locals young and old. Locals loyal to Gardner’s furniture past keep an eye on maintaining The Big Chair, so that this symbol of Gardner’s chair manufacturing past can be seen for years to come.

Research Contributed by Sarah H. of Troop 7006, Gardner