Luce Furniture Co.
1896 – 1930; 1935 – 1938
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Successor to McCord & Bradfield
SEE ALSO McCord & Bradfield Furniture Co.; Michigan Art Craft Co. (Listed below) and Michigan Chair Co.
1880: Ransom C. Luce becomes president of McCord & Bradfield Furniture Co.
1896: McCord & Bradfield Furniture Co. changes name to Luce Furniture Co.
1910: Factory is enlarged and remodeled.
1912: Luce begins to claim in advertisements to be the world’s largest manufacturer of bedroom and dining room furniture exclusively.
1925: In the largest merger of furniture manufacturers in Grand Rapids history, Luce consolidates with the Furniture Shops of Grand Rapids.
1926: Luce Furniture Corp. and The Furniture Shops purchase Michigan Chair Co.
1930: Company is purchased by Kroehler Manufacturing Co. of Naperville, Illinois, and operates as a division known as Furniture Shops of America, Inc.
1933: Company files for bankruptcy.
1935: Finances are reorganized and company re-opens.
1938: Luce Furniture Co. closes.
Luce’s predecessor company, McCord & Bradfield, was founded by Thomas McCord, John Bradfield, and Fred R. and Ransom C. Luce. Bradfield invented and patented the company’s original folding bed; R.C Luce was a banker with National City Bank and often served as the company’s treasurer. In the early 20th century a third family member, Gregory M. Luce, also served as company president. John C. Hoult was a cabinetmaker by training that became plant manager in 1894, and reached the position of president before his death in 1915. His son John H. Hoult was president of Luce at the time it was sold in 1930.
Thomas Handley, who received his training at Waring & Gillow of London, served as staff designer for a number of years prior to leaving Luce in 1915 to join the Johnson brothers in the formation of Johnson-Handley-Johnson. Handley was succeeded as designer in 1915 by another Waring & Gillow trainee, Stanley Holt Stirrup. Both held special interest and expertise in the design of English period styles. In 1920 Thomas Johnson, also from London, designed Luce’s line of period revival bedroom and dining suites.
An 1897 ad in The Michigan Artisan lists Luce as a maker of chamber suites, sideboards, and chiffoniers, and claims that its factory has the largest capacity of any in the world. Its goods are listed in a 1900 Grand Rapids Herald article as medium-and cheap-grade chamber (bedroom furniture) and sideboards in oak, birch, ash, and other woods. In 1904 – 1906, Luce’s bedroom and dining suites were in oak and mahogany, with a decidedly English Arts and Crafts feel. Leaded art glass windows were employed in vitrine and sideboard windows; geometric cut-outs in chair backs and back splashes, and sometimes unusual and beautiful Art Nouveau-influenced inlays of wood, copper, and pewter. In 1912 the company advertised itself as the largest shipper of Mission Dining Room furniture.
During the later 1910s and throughout the 1920s, the company continued to produce bedroom and dining suites, which ran the gamut of European period revival styles including Florentine, Italian Renaissance, Cromwellian, Jacobean, Elizabethan, Georgian, Queen Anne, Adam, Hepplewhite, Chippendale, Louis XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, American Colonial, and Duncan Phyfe. Pieces were veneered in walnut and mahogany, and many were enameled and painted.
With the reorganization of Luce in 1935, the company introduced a line of Art Deco furniture with bold geometric circular and rectangular shapes, and figured woods employed in unusual patterns and colors. These modern suites existed in catalogs alongside other, more traditional revival lines.
MARKS AND LABELS
The company trademark from at least 1909 through the 1920s was the word “LUCE” in slender, upper case letters, shaped in a circle, and surrounded by a circle. After the reorganization in the 1930s, the name “Luce” was printed in script inside an oval, surrounded by the words, “GRAND RAPIDS/CERTIFIED FURNITURE” and a second oval.
McCord & Bradfield Furniture Company
1878 – 1896
Grand Rapids, Michigan
This company’s first products consisted of folding beds of a design patented by owner/partner John Bradfield. Its line was soon expanded to include other forms of medium-grade bedroom and dining furniture in ash and maple.
1878: Company founded.
1896: Name changes to Luce Furniture Co.
Michigan Art Craft Company
1896 – 1926
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Manufacturer of occasional tables and wood novelties
Merged with Luce Furniture Co. in 1926
The source, with permission of the author, is Grand Rapids Furniture: The Story of America’s Furniture City by Christian G. Carron, published by the Grand Rapids Public Museum. 1998.
|Title||Luce Furniture Co.|
|Address||Grand Rapids, MI|