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Friday, September 14, 2018

Chair Factory - Hornerstown

Enjoy this brief look at the history of the chair factory in Hornerstown, 600 to 700 chairs are made daily at this plant. Frank Medvesek of 547 Russell Avenue finishes sanding a chair before it is sent to the paint-spraying room - seen in the background. The chairs are made on a production line basis and move through the plant on an overhead conveyor. The gentleman on the right is George DeFrehn - superintendent of the factory.

Since their beginnings in 1898 - it is estimated that more than 3 million chairs have been made at their Hornerstown plant.

The chair factory no longer markets its own products directly as it did for many years. In the 1940's it began making chairs exclusively for the National Store Fixture Company out of Baltimore, Maryland which marketed them in all parts of the country.

Actually, the chair-making process at DeFehn's was a three-fold operation. They made the wooden framework, F.T. Shank did the upholstering in his Geistown shop along with a leased space in the chair factory and the finishing work was done by the National Store Fixture Company with its own force of employees at the Johnstown plant.

The chairs made at the factory are of a modern design for kitchen, restaurant, school and other uses. With the exception of certain parts, they are made up of 14-ply laminated wood. Under the process, veneers in large sheets are glued and pressed into forms of the required shape. After the sheets are dried quickly by high frequency electric heat, the laminated wood is ready to be cut just like solid wood. 
Chair manufacturing by the DeFehns dates back to 1858, when William DeFrehn opened a shop in Schuylkill County.

William had six sons - Robert, William, Charles,Frank, Augustus and George when he established their Johnstown factory in 1898 at its location at Horner and Poplar Streets.

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