Henry Sheldon, Relic Chair, 1884. Collection of the Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History, Middlebury, VT. Photograph by Brett Simison.

This website was written by the students of Professor Ellery Foutch’s Winter 2018 Middlebury College course, American Studies 1017: Material Culture in Focus. It explores a “relic chair” built by Middlebury resident and amateur historian Henry Luther Sheldon in 1884. While the chair’s general structure resembles an eclectic comb-back Windsor chair, the spindles of the upper two rows have been carefully turned on a lathe to undulate with gentle curves and swells. Each of these spindles derives from a different site of local or historical significance: from Old Ironsides to the local church steeple, the town whipping post to former President Andrew Johnson’s tailor shop.

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