A comfortable seat in the Springs
The Springs lost its iconic Western wear store, Lonesome Cowboy Ranch, last winter but the colorful storefront across from Sonoma Mission Inn won’t be vacant for long. Early this fall, a locally-owned handcrafted Adirondack chair company, called Heritage Furniture, will set up (wood)shop at 18135 Sonoma Highway.
Owner Stephen Calhoun grew up in Maine but has lived in Sonoma off and on for almost 20 years.
His ancestors, the Chute family, arrived in New England in the early 1700s and eventually settled in Maine in the early 1800s. Several generations worked at the local sawmill and his great grandfather, Leander, built and sold a few Adirondack on the side and kept a copy of the pattern for the family.
Having taken woodworking classes in high school and junior college, Calhoun has long felt the pull to continue the building tradition.
“It was the only class I got an A in,” he said with a laugh. He also studied architecture and saw the value of using his AutoCAD design skills in the production process.
Feeling ready for a change in the early days of COVID, he started experimenting and created four prototypes in a garage workshop to see which came closest to his grandfather’s designs and which were most comfortable and most feasible to build at a reasonable price.
Heritage Furniture was born. It’s a one-man operation but Calhoun is assisted on occasion by his mother, Carol Solak, 75, who he says is enjoying being part of the tradition that she remembers from her youth.
Calhoun is in the process of moving into the former Lonesome Cowboy Ranch storefront on Highway 12, just two blocks from his house, and is prepping the space to serve as a both his workshop and his store. The sign should be up next week.
“The landlords have been super welcoming,” he said. “They’re excited to have another very local business in there.”
The store will sell chairs, tables, loveseats and umbrellas. Customers can buy a completed chair or a kit to finish themselves. Shipping is also available. There are several choices of wood type, paint and finish.
“We can even paint the chairs with a custom color of their choosing,” he said.
Calhoun’s very first customer was Rob Larman, who bought three chairs for his barbecue restaurant, Cochon Volant, just down the street. Prema Behan of 3 Sticks Winery bought two chairs painted to match the winery décor and Sonoma International Film Festival director Kevin McNeely recently bought two chairs for his home
Calhoun believes he is filling a gap in the local market.
“Most of the other Adirondack-style chairs available locally are either a fancy plastic or poly-wood,” he said. “Mine are cedar, oak or marine grade plywood.”
Calhoun is taking orders now – and already has a two-week backlog. He expects to open his doors across from the Sonoma Mission Inn in early fall.
Contact Lorna at firstname.lastname@example.org.