Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Anacostia in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

The Big Chair

An East-of-the-River View

 

—Anacostia Heritage Trail —

 
The Big Chair Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 30, 2016
1. The Big Chair Marker
Inscription. This Anacostia icon once marked the entrance to Curtis Brothers Furniture Co. The business dated to 1926, when young Fred and George Curtis acquired a Model T Ford truck to deliver ice, then progressed to moving furniture. They soon rented a storage facility on Shannon Place then opened a store to sell items abandoned there by customers. Eventually they offered new furniture too. Over time three generations ran the business, which grew beyond the Anacostia retail operation and warehouses to include three suburban stores.

In 1958 Curtis Brothers billed itself as Washington's largest furniture display and had Bassett Furniture construct a 4,600-pound mahogany Big Chair as its symbol. It unveiled the finished chair with a ceremony presided over by "Miss World's Largest Chair": DC resident Maureen Reagan, daughter of movie stars Ronald Reagan (later U.S. president) and Jane Wyman. Numerous Big Chair publicity stunts followed.

The Big Chair survived the civil disturbances following the 1968 assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Though damage to Anacostia's shopping district was modest, many businesses and residents moved away afterwards. Curtis Brothers Furniture closed in 1975. Four years later the community began marking Dr. King's birthday with a parade along the avenue that passed the
The Big Chair Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 30, 2016
2. The Big Chair Marker
neighborhood's longtime centerpiece.

Eventually time and weather got the best of the Big Chair, and the Curtises removed it. The loss so upset the neighborhood that the Curtises made a replica in metal. Godfather of Go-Go Chuck Brown, whose career took off in the house parties and clubs of Anacostia, performed at the new Big Chair's dedication in 2006.
 
Erected by Anacostia Heritage Trail. (Marker Number 12.)
 
Location. 38° 51.927′ N, 76° 59.365′ W. Marker is in Anacostia, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is on Martin Luther King Jr Ave Southeast, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2100 Martin Luther King Jr Ave Southeast, Washington DC 20020, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named The Big Chair (a few steps from this marker); The World’s Largest Chair (a few steps from this marker); Mother Churches and Their Daughters (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Crossing Lines (approx. 0.2 miles away); Booth's Escape (approx. 0.2 miles away); Uniontown, DC's First Suburb
The Big Chair image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2016
3. The Big Chair
(approx. 0.2 miles away); The Sage of Anacostia (approx. ¼ mile away); A Museum for the Community (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Anacostia.
 
Categories. Industry & CommerceMan-Made Features
 
Maureen Reagan is crowned Miss World's Largest Chair, 1958 image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 30, 2016
4. Maureen Reagan is crowned Miss World's Largest Chair, 1958
Close-up of photo on marker
Curtis Brothers Furniture<br>2041 Nichols Avenue image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2016
5. Curtis Brothers Furniture
2041 Nichols Avenue
The Big Chair image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2016
6. The Big Chair
Publicity Stunt 1960 image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 30, 2016
7. Publicity Stunt 1960
Lynn Arnold occupies a glass house in a Curtis Brothers publicity stunt.
Close-up of photo on marker
1959 Plaque<br>(Mahogany Chair) image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2016
8. 1959 Plaque
(Mahogany Chair)

The World’s Largest Chair

Presented to Curtis Bros. for their outstanding leadership and service to the public by the Basset Furniture Industries.

The chair made of solid Honduras mahogany is 19½ feet tall and weighs 4600 pounds.

Designer: Leo M. Jiranek

Builder: J.E. Bassett, Jr.

Erected 1959 by Bassett Furniture Industries.
2006 Plaque<br>(Metal Chair) image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2016
9. 2006 Plaque
(Metal Chair)

The Big Chair

Re-dedication April 25, 2006.
This community landmark represents the Curtis Companies long standing allegience to the neighborhood and steadfast commitment to unity, prosperity and good will to all Washingtonians and friends of Anacostia.

Designers: John Kidwell & A Lomax Project

Fabricators: Cinnbar & Nelson’s Welding
“The Godfather of Go Go” image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2016
10. “The Godfather of Go Go”
Chuck Brown performed on the big Chair when it was rededicated in 2006.
Close-up of photo on marker
Stevie Wonder image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 30, 2016
11. Stevie Wonder
Motown star Stevie Wonder leads the 1980 Martin Luther King Day parade.
Close-up of photo on marker
Nichols Avenue becomes Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2016
12. Nichols Avenue becomes Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue
Mayor Walter Washington installs the new street sign 1971.
Close-up of photo on marker
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 23, 2017. This page originally submitted on December 31, 2016, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 402 times since then and 352 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on December 31, 2016, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.   10, 11, 12. submitted on January 7, 2017, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
Paid Advertisement