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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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Folding Beds

Folding Beds

GRHC - June 6th, 2012

Folding beds of all types and styles were quite the rage in the second half of the 1800s. Grand Rapids had several companies that produced them. They were the forerunner of the foldout sofa bed still in use today.



A lesser-known item of furniture, but very popular in the last quarter of the 19th century, folding beds were manufactured by many US companies.

An advertisement in an 1849 St. Louis newspaper appealed to those heading west to the gold fields. ‘California Beds’ were suitable for the camp or extra steamboat berths, weighed only eighteen pounds, were easily carried on a mule, and could be converted into a table or sofa.

At least four Grand Rapids companies made or specialized in folding beds. The Welch Folding Bed Co., established in 1886, combined other pieces of furniture with its folding bed such as a writing desk and a chest of drawers.

The Phoenix Furniture Co. produced an elegant folding bed from 1887–1893. It was advertised as absolutely safe, requiring no lock or catch to hold it open or shut.

The Gunn Folding Bed Co. opened in 1890. When the market for folding beds began to decline around 1893, the company began producing roll-top desks, sectional bookcases, and other similar goods, thus the name was changed to the Gunn Furniture Co.

Charles J. Kindel, undaunted by the decline in folding bed sales, started the Kindel Bedding Co. in Denver in 1899. Attracted by the skilled workforce in Grand Rapids, he opened his new factory, the Kindel Bed Co. in 1912.  Kindel’s innovation, fore-runner of the modern foldout sofa bed, proved to be very popular.




Full Details

TitleFolding Beds
KeywordsWYCE; radio; Grand Rapids; Historical Commission; folding bed; beds; Gunn Folding Bed Co.; Kindel Bed Co.; Welch Folding Bed Co.
Pubdate StringJune 6th, 2012

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