© 2023 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WPKT · WRLI-FM · WEDW-FM · Public Files Contact
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Arts & Culture

Connecticut Valley Style

Eliphalet Chapin (1741-1807) opened his East Windsor cabinet shop in 1771 and introduced a new style of furniture to the Connecticut River Valley. Chapin set himself apart from his Connecticut contemporaries by incorporating various elements of Philadelphia inspired design and detail into his work. Although born, raised, and apprenticed as a cabinetmaker in Connecticut, Chapin abruptly departed Connecticut to flee a paternity suit in the late 1760s and spent nearly four years working alongside and learning from craftsman in the urban Philadelphia area.

On his return, Eliphalet Chapin integrated components of Philadelphia furniture design into his furniture, including carved decorative shells, elaborate chair splats (backs), claw-and-ball feet, rounded rear (stump) legs (particularly on chairs), and the omission of stretchers between chair legs. Using local resources available to him and adapting to the tastes of Connecticut buyers, Chapin’s furniture departed in some ways from Philadelphia styles. Rather than the rich mahogany wood favored by the craftsmen of Philadelphia, Chapin’s furniture was made from local cherry and pine. Chapin’s use of ornamentation was subdued in comparison to that employed by Philadelphia craftsmen; however, it was still more than most Connecticut furniture-makers were using.

The Chapin style spread throughout the region, partly though Chapin’s many apprentices and journeymen.  Modern craft furniture makers continue to find Chapin’s work a source of inspiration.  Select Chapin pieces from the CHS collection are on display, together with contemporary furniture that they inspired, in the exhibition A Tradition of Craft: Current Works by the Society of American Period Furniture Makers, which runs through September 8, 2012.

To learn more about Eliphalet Chapin and his furniture, join us at the Connecticut Historical Society, One Elizabeth Street, Hartford, CT 06105 on June 29, 2012 for a lecture and demonstration by Will Neptune. More information can be found at www.chs.org/calendar.  For a more complete listing of the Connecticut Historical Society’s collection of Chapin furniture, please visit www.chs.org/emuseum

Arts & Culture historyConnecticut

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.

Related Content