Entrepreneurs of North Carolina History Exhibit

Founders of the Furniture Capital 

1825Thomas Day

Thomas DayIn 1825, Thomas Day established a woodworking shop in Milton, N.C. His shop produced furniture such as bookcases, dressers, sofas, tables and chairs, as well as architectural elements such as moldings and newel posts. He had many prominent clients, including two North Carolina governors. The shop grew quickly, becoming North Carolina’s largest furniture business by 1850. The Panic of 1857 crippled Day’s shop, however. To make matters worse, the furniture maker could not collect from white customers who owed him money because of increasingly restrictive state laws that curtailed African American business owners as the rumblings of the Civil War grew. He died shortly after his shop went bankrupt in 1860. Modern experts regard his pieces as some of the best of nineteenth-century woodworking.

Thomasville1904TJ and CF Finch

The Finches were owed $2,000 for timber they sold to The Thomasville Chair Company, now Thomasville Furniture.  The brothers accepted stock instead of cash and bought out the other shareholders. The entrepreneurial brothers had already built a timber company and helped found a telephone company and two banks.

1905James Edgar Broyhill

James Edgar BroyhillNo industry leader could be more influential in the success of early North Carolina furniture revolution than James Edgar Broyhill. His brother, Thomas J. (T.J.), made his initial investment in furniture manufacturing in 1905 in Lenoir, N.C. Later, in 1926, James Edgar joined the family business and established Lenoir Chair Company. During the 1930’s and 40’s Broyhill began purchasing bankrupted and distressed furniture manufacturers with his vision set on flipping them for a profit.  After WWII the economic boom that was a part of the baby boomers generation made Broyhill’s dream a reality.  As profits soared to 75 million dollars a year in 1966, Broyhill’s contribution and success is cemented in North Carolina business.  After years of successful sales in furniture, Broyhill sold his business in 1980 for $151 million dollars to Interco Inc.

High Point Market1909High Point Market

The first formal Southern Furniture Market was held in High Point in 1909.  Today, the High Point Market is the largest home furnishings industry trade show in the world.