According to family history, Martha Washington acquired this high chair for the use of her two youngest grandchildren, Eleanor "Nelly" Parke Custis Lewis and George Washington Parke Custis, whom she and George Washington raised at Mount Vernon. Known as "table" or "dining" chairs to eighteenth-century parents, Windsor high chairs imitated adult seating and enabled young children to sit with their families during mealtimes. Mrs. Washington gave the chair to Nelly. It provided a privileged seat for three generations of Lewis children until being given to the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association in 1912.


Child's sack-back Windsor high chair with seven, plain back spindles, a half-round arm rail, double-baluster-spool-and-inverted baluster-turned arm posts, a D-shaped, saddled seat, and four, splayed, double-baluster-spool-and-taper-turned legs joined by H-mounted stretchers with a flat foot rest supported on tenons inserted into the front legs. The continuous bow of the upper back is rounded at front and back; its ends are inserted into mortises on the arm rail. The back spindles are tenoned into the seat and bow; the center five extend through the bow and are wedged. The spindles in the lower section are thicker. The arm rail terminates in a flat, rounded, outward curving end on the proper right and a pointed stub on the proper left; it is supported on the sides by three thickened spindles which are tenoned into the seat and rail and extend through the rail and are wedged. The arm supports are tenoned into the seat and the rail and extend through the rail. The plank seat has a slight pommel at front center and a deep groove outlining the front and back of the spindle and arm post area; its underside is chamfered along the outside edges. The legs are tenoned through the seat and wedged; all are inscribed with a faint line where they join the side stretchers. The stretcher support has single-swell side and medial stretchers; all the stretchers are inscribed with a faint line around the thickest part of the swell. Evidence of an earlier, black finish is visible on the underside of the seat.

The foot rest is a replacement (1923-1924, as discussed in the MVLA MINUTES), a fact that is apparent from the machine planing marks on the underside.





Tulip poplar (seat), oak (arms), maple (legs), paint


Overall (H x W x D): 33 1/8 in. x 18 1/2 in. x 15 3/8 in. (84.14 cm x 46.99 cm x 39.05 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Mary F. Failing, Vice Regent for Oregon, 1912

Object Number


Colors (Beta)

Mount Vernon's object research is ongoing and information about this object is subject to change. For information on image use and reproductions, click here.
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