(Adapted from “Picturesque Franklin” , Wade, Warner & Co. , Northampton MA 1891
This publication was a “snap shot” of Franklin County businesses and industries as of 1891. This original article will not include the history which occurred afterwards, unless noted by the museum editor.)
The Washburn & Heywood Chair Co., of Erving, whose home is shown in the picturesque engraving on this page, is familiar, through this building, to every frequent traveler on the Fitchburg railroad, as trains passing through the town run close by the place, and it is often pointed out as the scene of the early business success of one of the best governors the state of Massachusetts ever had, William B. Washburn. The business having descended from father to son, is now conducted by Wm. K. Washburn of Greenfield.
The business had its beginning, so far as the Washburn family were concerned, in 1844, when Wm. B. Washburn, as assignee, took charge of the business affairs of his uncle, Wm. B. Whitney of Orange, who was in embarrassed financial circumstances and to whom young Washburn was grateful for aid once received in obtaining his education. Mr. Washburn first manufactured pails, and furnished a part of the timber used in constructing the famous steamship, “Great Eastern,” and later the firm of the Washburn & Heywood Chair Co., which afterwords became the largest of that line in the country, was organized.
About one hundred men are now employed in all departments, by Mr. Washburn, at Erving, and a large export business is done, especially to Australia and the British colonies. The product is mostly wooden chairs of 150 different patterns for halls, offices, etc., and about ten car loads are shipped weekly. The Washburn & Heywood Chair Co. has achieved a national reputation for the durability and general superiority of its goods, illustrating anew the truth that a good name is better to be chosen than great riches, but in the case of Wm. B. Washburn it brought both fame and a substantial competence, and the son evidently is determined to deserve an honorable succession.