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Posts Tagged ‘Furniture’

State Reps. Alma Adams and John Faircloth, Gov. Pat McCrory and Sec. Susan Kluttz pose with the newly-dedicated highway marker to the High Point Market.

High Point has long been known as the “Furniture Capital of the World,” and with an annual economic impact of $8.25 billion and more than 69,000 jobs in the Triad region, it’s easy to see why. Cultural Resources Secretary Susan Kluttz and Governor Pat McCrory dedicated a historical highway marker that celebrates that legacy earlier this week.

The marker honors the High Point Market, which was founded in the city of the name in 1909. As the industry grew in the region, so did the market. Today it is largest furniture market in the world, drawing nearly 75,000 visitors twice each year.

Check out photos of the dedication on our Flickr site, and explore the hundreds of highway markers across the state online using this awesome online interactive map.

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Thomas Day Statue

All this month we’re bringing you stories from North Carolina’s black history. Check back here each week day for a new tidbit from our state’s African American’s past.

Thomas Day, a cabinetmaker by trade, is perhaps the most celebrated of North Carolina’s antebellum craftsmen. Born in 1801 to a family of free, landowning African Americans, his father was also a skilled cabinetmaker.  Thomas and his brother John were well-educated and both followed in their father’s footsteps, learning the skills to become cabinetmakers.

After establishing a furniture business with his brother in Milton by 1823, Day became a prominent and well-respected citizen of the community. In response to an act of 1826 that prohibited free blacks from immigrating into the state, Milton’s white leaders petitioned the General Assembly in 1830 to allow Day’s bride, Aquilla Wilson, a free black from Virginia, to join her husband in North Carolina.

A sideboard by Thomas Day, now in the collection of the N.C. Museum of History

A sideboard by Thomas Day, now in the collection of the N.C. Museum of History

In his almost 40 years in Milton, Day built an extraordinary business, employing freedmen and slaves alike to craft stock lines of furniture and to fill custom orders for furniture and interior woodworking. By 1850, Day had the largest cabinetry shop in North Carolina.

For more on Day’s life, check out this podcast from the N.C. Museum of History and for more on the furniture industry in North Carolina head to NCpedia.

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The N.C. Museum of History is hammering and sawing away on a free exhibit that explores the extraordinary life and legacy of Thomas Day, a free man of color who owned and operated one of North Carolina’s largest cabinet shops prior to the Civil War.  Behind the Veneer: Thomas Day, Master Cabinetmaker, which opens May 22, showcases approximately 70 pieces of furniture crafted by Day, who lived and worked in Milton, in Caswell County.  As exhibit curatorPatricia Phillips Marshall says “Thomas Day can rightfully be called one of the fathers of the North Carolina furniture industry.” 

Pat is curator of decorative arts for the N.C. Museum of History and the Executive Mansion. She co-authored the book “Thomas Day: Master Craftsman and Free Man of Color,” published by UNC Press.  The book will be released on May 22.

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