Bennington hopes to save ‘the big chair’

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BENNINGTON, Vt. (NEWS10) – A small-town icon is going on the auction block, leaving the community worried about the future of Bennington’s big chair.

Standing at more than 19 feet tall, it’s the largest ladder back chair in the country, and it may have to find a new seat. It’s up for auction, but there’s an effort to keep it right here in Bennington.

A towering chair dots the quaint landscape of downtown Bennington. A bright yellow sign threatens its very existence.

“Oh my gosh we stand a chance of losing a real iconic fixture of Bennington,” said Jeff Grimshaw of the online media outlet, Southern Vermont Today.

Jeff Grimshaw is helping to lead the effort to keep the seat. It’s a version of a chair that’s been around since the 1940’s.

“Take a right at the chair or take a left at the chair the chair was a landmark,” said Paula LaPorte of Paula’s Weaving Workshop.

The original rotted away and was rebuilt in 2012 by LaFlamme’s furniture, which has now filed for bankruptcy and will auction off everything inside the store and out.

“Yes it will be sad if it leaves town because it was so wonderful when it came back,” LaPorte said.

LaPorte wove the seat, making sure snow and rain could drain through. The three day effort was more than just a commercial project for Paula.

“It’s not an advertisement it’s a piece of hand crafted sculpture that represents old techniques in modern time,” LaPorte said.

Bennginton selectman (board member) Jim Carrol agrees, as he has fond childhood memories of orginal chair growing up.

“It was a rite of passage when I was a kid especially in high school to climb the chair. If you look at it, it’s a fantastic thing,” Carroll said.

It seems much of the community agrees and Grimshaw is even raising funds to buy the chair outright.

“It’s like route 66 where you have the giant corkscrew and the ball of yarn but this is the biggest ladder back chair,” Grimshaw said.

A chair that makes you stop and stare, an economic driver even.

The auction goes live march 19th, if you’d like to donate to the fund visit their website: Save The Big Chair.

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