The Odenton Chair

The Odenton Chair

The chair is part of a pair. Beneath, on the underside of the seat are the words:

NATIONAL STORE FIXTURECO.INC
ODENTON, MARYLAND

The chair is the same as its mate. Black wood, gold tipped front legs, and marbled poppy-colored vinyl upholstery with black piping around the perimeter. It is not a lounging chair, more a dining chair—a solid chair for meals and occasional sitting. The back of the chair has two squared columns drawing up to the rounded back rest that hugs your ribs in a crescent, lightly holding you under the arms.

The chair is modern. It is slim and attractive. I remember how the pair looked in my grandmother’s basement, on the shag carpet. One stood next to an unused bed, another at a desk. They had once been part of my grandmother’s office when she worked for the Iowa Women’s Bowling Association. When she retired the chairs were demoted, not quite good enough for the upstairs even though I thought they looked better than the furniture that came after. My mother knew I liked the chairs, so she mailed them to me recently when I bought a house of my own. She paid $80 to mail the two chairs in a box, stacked seat to seat, from Iowa to California.

The National Store Fixture Company was a successful woodworking business owned and operated by the Winer family in Baltimore prior to 1941. According to an article I found by descendant Jay Winer, World War II brought shortages of metal and wood, so the family turned to synthetic materials and created The National Plastic Products Company after landing the expansive old WB&A railway property in Odenton.

I do not know when this chair was made, and I wonder why any wooden chairs were made in Odenton. Did the family bring The National Store Fixture Company’s wood remnants to Odenton and continue making wooden chairs while supplies lasted? This would put the chair on the early side of the ‘40s then. On the other hand, it is possible that the chair was made after the war, when perhaps wood became available again. Did both companies run simultaneously? Another resource tells me that The National Store Fixture Company was not incorporated until 1948, so perhaps the chair came after that time, because it does say .INC right on the chair.

Winer’s article goes beyond his family, in fact he wrote it primarily to give historical background to a community called Piney Orchard. By 1950, The National Plastic Products Company employed around 1,500 people. Because of this, the family purchased land nearby on which they built 900 homes, along with shopping and recreation areas.

The chair is at least sixty years old and has traveled from Maryland to Iowa to California. Maybe Jay Winer touched the chair. His Piney Orchard article was written in 2011, and was easy for me to trace. I could contact him, if I wanted. I could tell him the chair sent me.