This red chair has been traveling to inns all over New England. (submitted photo)
This red chair has been traveling to inns all over New England. (submitted photo)
Wednesday November 21, 2012

CHESTERFIELD, N.H. -- Walk into the lobby of the Chesterfield Inn and you will see a piece of furniture that doesn't exactly match the decor.

It stands off to the side, minding its own business, with only its bright color catching your eye. And yet, the object is possibly as well-traveled as some of the guests that rent a room at the inn.

It's known simply as The Red Chair, and it has traveled to southwestern New Hampshire by way of a seemingly random zigzag pattern throughout some of New England's oldest lodging establishments. Originating from the Woods Hole Inn on Cape Cod, it has become an inanimate celebrity of sorts, as people have been tracking its journey online and attempting to find it for photo opportunities.

"It's really kind of cool looking because it's red and wooden. ... It takes a great photo. It has a warm presence," said Judy Hueber, the Chesterfield Inn's owner for the past 25 years. "It looks like it's traveled some. It has some mileage on it."

The chair began its adventure when Woods Hole Inn owner Beth Colt discovered it at her local dump a couple of years ago. The object grabbed her attention and she decided to bring it back to her inn. She found a spot for it on the front porch and it provided her guests with one more place to sit.

One day she decided to take a photograph of it resting on a frozen pond and post to the inn's Facebook page. Shortly after that a photographer named Julie Ann Cromer, who lives in Santa Barbara, Calif., saw the photo and became fascinated with it.

"I was inspired by The Red Chair because for me, it reflects who we are as people, how we look at the world, and even how we wish it would be. It's a ‘standing stand-in,' if you will, for us because it holds our emotions, self-reflection, and most definitely our dreams," Cromer said in an e-mail to the Reformer. "When I first saw The Red Chair on Beth's Facebook page that afternoon, I literally saw so many different people sitting in that same chair -- young, old, men, women, black, white ... all of us."

She contacted Colt to tell her how beautiful the photo was and said she would eventually come to visit.

"It was total serendipity," Colt said. "I said, ‘Wow, that's really extraordinary. How great.'"

Cromer, who has since visited the Woods Hole Inn about five times, asked to borrow the chair and she took a photograph of it (which can be seen in the Woods Hole Inn's dining room) at Nobska Beach.

"That was the beginning, when I got an inkling in the back of my mind that it had a larger life. It was an artistic medium," Colt said. "It's been an opportunity for innkeepers to connect with each other. ... People in hospitality tend to be very artistic."

So Colt got in touch with some of her colleagues in the New England inn and bed-and-breakfast community and a travel itinerary was devised. The Red Chair's regional trip started in the spring and Colt hopes to develop a cross-country trip for it at some point. She said it will be back at her inn around Christmas.

Hueber said guests and employees alike have admired the Red Chair.

"They think it's nice and kind of pretty," she said. "They like having it here."

Hueber said the chair arrived on Sunday from the Three Mountain Inn in Jamaica. Inn owner Ed Dorta-Duque had it from Thursday to Sunday but said his facility did not have many guests because it is usually closed this time of year because skiing weather hasn't yet arrived.

This red chair has been traveling to inns all over New England. (submitted photo)
This red chair has been traveling to inns all over New England. (submitted photo)
But he said he took the chair to Jamaica State Park, the Balance Rock and the fire station, among other places, and took photographs of it.

Hueber said she will drive it to The Deerfield Inn in Deerfield, Mass., the day after Thanksgiving.

Carl Sabo, who serves as The Deerfield Inn's innkeeper with his wife, Jane Howard, said the chair's arrival will be very timely, as it is scheduled to get there about five months before the inn reopens a building that was devastated by Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011.

Sabo said the business, which is owned by Historic Deerfield, consists of two buildings -- a smaller one currently used as a bed and breakfast and a larger one that houses the main inn and Champney's Restaurant & Tavern.

He said the chair will give the inn some wonderful exposure and will highlight how the construction and renovations are quickly coming to a close.

"We're very excited," Sabo said.

After Deerfield, the chair will head to the Applegate Inn, located in Lee, Mass.

The Red Chair's journey can be followed at www.RedChairTravels.com, where photos of it can also be seen.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.