The Grand Ledge Chair Company was founded in 1883, when three young carpenters from Grand Rapids named Thomas Garrett, Harry Jordan, and Edward Crawford opened a shop at South Bridge and River Streets to produce chairs. In 1893, after having established a successful business in Grand Ledge, Garrett, Jordan, and Crawford decided to sell out and returned to Grand Rapids to open a furniture factory there. The factory produced high-quality furniture, primarily chairs, although at various times tables have been made there as well.
Back in Grand Ledge, a local businessman named Edward Turnbull decided to take advantage of the opportunity and with a partner, George W. Fletcher, he bought the factory and some of the machinery in 1893. They kept the name Grand Ledge Chair Company. Shortly after acquiring the business, Turnbull bought out Fletcher’s share of the business and became the sole owner.
The original factory building was located on the Grand River, on South Bridge St., adjacent to the Opera House. It was a large three-story building. The company did well, eventually outgrowing the old factory on Bridge Street. In 1906, Mr. Turnbull built a new three-story factory on Perry Street and moved his operations to that site.
The Grand Ledge Chair Company was a success and Turnbull turned his attention to other ventures, such as the Grand Ledge Clay Products Company and the Reo Motor Company in Lansing. He died in 1916, leaving the Chair Company in the hands of his wife, Emma. She headed up the company, with assistance from manager C.M. Maris, through the Depression years and unionization in 1941.