Beginning in 1969 and for many years after that, George and I had a booth at Springs Folk Festival. We sold our wooden lamps with woven veneer shades and lathe-turned candle holders. Cross-cut stools made from a log with the bark still on the edge added to the collection. However the most popular item were the engraved signs and nameplates. Each sign was made for the customer while they waited. Ray and Gloria Becker assisted with the many customers. Ray sanded and attached chain hangers to the plaques while George did the engraving. Later, as George and his craftsman started making furniture, the collection included tables, chairs, dry sinks, hutches. George’s famous non-tip rocking chairs caught a lot of attention.
The Springs Folk Festival Craft show
The town of Springs, PA is located in the tri-state area of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland. The first weekend in October was the peak for beautiful fall foliage in the area. The stand holders demonstrated their craft which added authenticity to the event. Bus loads of people from Baltimore, Washington DC and Pittsburgh came. On a beautiful Saturday, cars lined up from nearby Grantsville, MD, waiting to find parking in the grass fields around the festival. On rainy days, cars got stuck in the fields and young car parkers needed to push them out of the mud.
Food brings crowds
Several other attractions were the food made by the Amish and Mennonite cooks. Homemade bread baked in an old-time beehive-shaped bake oven. Then covered with a generous helping of apple butter, made in a large copper kettle over a fire. Special “festival sausage” made with the “whole pig”, hams and all kinds of other local favorites. As business grew, George focused his attention more at home. In recent years, the next generation owners decided to attend the Sugarloaf Craft Festivals near cities like Philadelphia, New York, Washington DC and Baltimore.
Thriving Furniture Manufacturing
Heather and Craig watched Georges Woodcrafts develop from the small budding business in 1974 to a thriving furniture manufacturing business it is today. Regardless of the ridiculously small showroom that required them to slide past a shelving unit to visit the rest of the store, Craig and Heather remember their delightful visit with George. During their first trip to the showroom, Craig learned about the amazing non-tip rocking chair. After purchasing a rocking chair, Heather found out they were expecting their first child. A larger showroom space greeted them during their next visit.
Wood working passion
George loved working with the customers to discover their unique design requests. He stopped what he was doing and gave them his undivided attention. His passion and knowledge of crafting solid hardwood furniture is an education that many of his customers experienced. A genuine artist who loved to share his passion for quality. Everyone left the showroom with a fresh look at quality furniture and a mind full of ideas.
Nobody has a finish like George’s. It’s held up all these 45 years.–Heather
Not only does George pay attention to the small details, he also delivered their furniture. Pam remembers one delivery when Georges came smelling like wood smoke from working on the farmette where the wood shop building and showrooms are located in Marietta, PA.
Craig not only purchased a rocking chair, but they added an intermediate chair for their grandchildren, a vanity bench for Heather’s spinning wheel, and a custom piece that needed to fit into a 40-inch space between the fireplace and wall. They purchased two child-size table and chair sets for their children’s families.
Craig and Heather Kegerise continue to visit George’s showroom and dream of new furniture for their house. Join our growing number of customers who love to share their discovery of handcrafted furniture Made Your Way.
George realized his natural gift and talent for making quality wood products and wanted to spread the word. The challenge with spreading the word about quality of hand-crafted products is finding customers who appreciate handcrafted items.
George first displayed his wood items at Springs Festival, Springs, PA. He skillfully created live edge furniture such as stools, benches, tables, and bookends. Thin, woven wood-strip baskets and lamp shades characterized his unique, woodworking styles. Throughout the show day, George engraved custom plaques ready in one hour. Other larger wood items like rockers, dry sinks, trestle table and benches were available for purchase. Customers also used the furniture to explore the different furniture style options for placing custom orders. For many years, the order placed at the craft show supplied work for the next 12 months. George not only went to Springs festival but also displayed his crafts at the Dutch Family Festival in Lancaster, PA during the summer tourist season.
In 1973, he rented a small showroom at 4 Center Square, Elizabethtown, PA. Later that winter he moved his furniture store to 20 S. Market Street, Elizabethtown, where he sold furniture for thirteen years. This furniture store was quite small but allowed customers to see the quality of craftsmanship made by George and his craftsmen. On Friday and Saturdays, he also had a stand at Meadowbrook Farmer’s Market, Leola, PA. George purchased a 12-acre farm where he moved his wood working shop into the dairy barn.
Showroom and wood shop tours
One added benefit our customers enjoy is touring the wood shop. George moved the showroom to the same location as the wood shop. Allowing customer to view the furniture manufacturing shows everyone the time and attention to detail given to each piece of furniture. The larger showrooms present a visual display of completed furniture. Larger furniture-dining room sets, bedroom suites, living room tables, entertainment centers are displayed.
Our two large showrooms are located 9 Reichs Church Road, Marietta, PA, Monday through Saturday. The wood-shop tour exhibits the manufacturing process from raw lumber to finished furniture. Take a trip to our location and enjoy the quality furniture and talk to our design team about a new piece of custom-made furniture. We also display our furniture at craftshows in the Eastern United States. Check our website for updated schedule.
George’s legacy began in 1970, in a 8×12 ft shed in the back yard. A small collection of hand and powered tools along with raw lumber started the foundation that turned a hobby into a thriving business. While he worked at a local sawmill, he collected his own raw lumber by cutting some trees at a neighbor’s property, taking the logs to a sawmill, and drying the wood in a neighbor’s barn. Once the wood was dried properly, George took his natural talent and blessed his wife with handmade furniture.
First legacy furniture style
The first style of furniture George made depended on the small number of tools that were in his tool collection. The louvered doors and live edge shelves permeated the first furniture crafted. George used a 2×2 ft table saw to cut the slats for the louvered door panels and fit them into the door frame. A hand-held drill served as a hole maker for the 8 sized rungs. The table saw helped him made the 8-sided rungs. By turning his hand held belt sander upside down and wedging it into a vice grip he created a way to sand a taper into each rung end.
First woods used
Walnut and butternut wood were the first species of wood that George used for his furniture. Walnut wood contains a natural dark and light sections to the wood grain. The first 15 years of new growth is blond in color before it turns into a dark brown color. This is known as the sapwood and heart wood of a tree. Since Butternut wood naturally looks blond like walnut sapwood, George chose to use butternut wood for the shelves and the live edge of walnut for the rest of the furniture.
First piece created
In 1970, George designed and built a live edge bookcase with open shelves and storage below. Without the equipment to make raised panel doors, he utilized the antique louvered construction for doors and the back. Two thin rungs behind the doors provided a place to store vinyl records. On the bottom of the bookcase, we noticed that George used a yellow lumber crayon (tough, non-fade, water resistant crayon used in the forestry industry.) for signing his signature along with the date and place of construction. His typical signature included his first two initials and ended with his last name. The place was Lancaster county, PA. The written year finished the personal identification of authenticity.
After a fruitless search for a high-chair, George shocked Ava Lee by announcing his plan to make a high-chair for his young daughter. Chairs are one of the most difficult pieces of furniture to design and create for durability and longevity. Making the rungs, contouring the seat, designing the tray, drilling the precise angles, and assembling all the parts is quite an engineering feat. Georges presented the new highchair to their first daughter upon its completion. Later each child did their best to escape the grips of the highchair tray. Some even fell asleep.
Additional items in legacy collection
For Christmas of 1972, George designed a stereo cabinet to house the record player and stereo unit that he gifted to his wife, Ava Lee as a wedding present. The cabinet held the record player, two large speakers, and media storage. On the record player lid, it is inscribed, “To My Beloved Family for Christmas of 1972.” GBMartin, Lancaster County, PA, in lead pencil, protected by a water-resistant finish. Several other items in the original collection are live edge end tables, coffee table, and a small bench.
Next came tables and chairs
Once a highchair design was complete, the next step was dining chairs. Continuing the 8-sided rungs and contours seat, George built his first dining chair for Ava Lee, Christmas of 1971. He enlisted the services of Ebersole’s chair shop for steam bending of the chair backs. As a result of one completed chair the rest of the chair set arrived for Ava Lee’s birthday in January 1972. While their first daughter enjoyed the handmade highchair, she was pushed out by a second child. However, this created a problem because she could not comfortably sit on a regular chair and eat at the table. No problem, dad to the rescue. Soon a child’s chair arrived that was an intermediate height between a highchair and regular chair.
The second child also brought another want; a rocking chair. Good to his promise of providing for his family, George met another engineering challenge head on. He created not only a comfortable rocking chair with all its unique angles but also a rocker that does not tip over. The first rocker showed up on Valentines day for Ava Lee, 1972. The second rocking chair with arms was signed “To my beloved family 1972, GBMartin, Lancaster County, PA.” 1974 brought the creation of the first table, a 42 inch square walnut 4 legged table. However when the family needed a larger table, George converted the table into an extension table and donated it to Heartsease Home, a girls home in New York City.
Explore the museum
Our second showroom displays many of the original furniture designed and created by George Martin. Meet our Founder, George Martin as he talks (videos) about the different processes of making furniture. Visit our furniture store and wood shop soon for a personal look at the quality and craftsmanship that George passed onto his craftsmen.
High Chair Designed
There is a saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention”. George and I spent our first year of marriage in the mountains of West Virginia. While there, I became pregnant with our first child. After spending a year there, we moved back to Elizabethtown in November 1969. George got a job at a saw mill where he learned about grades of hardwood lumber. In April our daughter, Juanita, was born. When she learned to sit up, George and I went shopping for a high chair. After a discouraging time of searching and not finding one that we liked, George said, “I think I will make one.” I looked at him in disbelief.
“I think I will make one.”
“Oh yes, George”, I said, “I know that you can make things with wood, but a high chair with a tray? That seems quite complicated.” Well, I have learned not to question my husband when he says he will do something, because there isn’t much that he won’t try and with success. The high chair that he built has survived 4 children and is now in the historical section of the showroom. When we have family dinners that require 2 high chairs, it comes into my house to be used for one of my grandchildren.
Child’s High Chair legacy
After making the high chair, George made chairs for our table, replacing the folding chairs that we had received as a wedding gift. Soon after that, he designed the rocking chair that will not tip over. Then he went on to design chairs of all sizes to go with the tables he was making, arm chairs and an intermediate chair for children ages 3-8. There were swivel chairs for the bar and later, when they began making desks, swivel desk chairs. All chairs are made with a 2 inch plank bottom seat shaped for comfort, designed for strength.
It all began because our daughter needed a high chair.
As 2019 draws to a close, we look forward to 2020 with anticipation and excitement. The Christmas season surely brings a sense of excitement and wonder as we celebrate the coming of Jesus for the salvation of the world. We pray that the remaining days of 2019 are a time of rest and celebration with family and close friends and that you will experience peace and joy!
The thought of the new year is thrilling to us as 2020 is the 50th Anniversary for George’s Furniture! In celebration of our 50th year, we are offering specials on our quality, handmade, solid wood furniture. Each month holds a different item, so pay close attention!
Here is what you can look forward to in 2020:
Register for your gift registry and receive a Keepsake wooden box or a set of wooden coasters. Or, refer an engaged couple and receive a gift certificate of $75 when they register.
$250 off Dining Tables
10% off a 3 piece standard-design bedroom set or
$300 off King or Queen bed or
$200 off Full/standard or Single bed
$350 off Buffet or similar storage unit.
$500 off Hutch or similar storage unit.
$400 off Coffee table and 2 end tables set
10% off custom entertainment unit
15% off Side chairs, benches, settees and rocking chairs
September and October: Small Christmas items
Plant stands, Cutting boards, Saddle seat stools, 10 x 15 x 10 Foot stools, Coaster sets, Small cross, Vanity bench. Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter to find details. Orders placed by October 31 to have by Christmas.
2020 promises to be an exciting year at George’s Furniture. If you haven’t already, visit our showroom to learn more about the quality, solid-wood furniture that we have been making for 50 years! You won’t be disappointed! We can’t wait to celebrate our 50th Anniversary with you! Stop on by the shop and visit! We’re looking forward to seeing you!