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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

Grand Rapids Furniture Awards at the Centennial

by April Chernoby

While furniture was not the only product sent for exhibition in Philadelphia it generated great enthusiasm both at the Fair as well as in the city. In fact before the display pieces were shipped for exhibition the residences of Grand Rapids were invited to observe the Phoenix Furniture Company’s pieces.  The exhibit along with an ornately carved bedroom sent by Nelson and Matter would later be honored with an award in Philadelphia.

Mr. Messrs, Averback, Massett, and Lavigne, whose skills were honed in the local furniture factories, also sent items to Philadelphia. Unfortunately these men alone were not able to pay to have their elegantly carved pieces on display at the Centennial Exposition. So in order to raise the necessary funds the citizens of Grand Rapids were asked examine their work over a four day period in return for a small contribution of fifteen cents.  The Daily Morning Times urged every citizen to embrace the opportunity to view these local masterpieces, which they did in droves. With community support these local men proudly represented Grand Rapids at the Fair.

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