We have two very similar and yet very unique chairs in the Mansion. One is in the Parlor and one is in the Library. The one in the Parlor is original to the Mansion and the one in the Library was donated by the Grandson of Annie Hegeler.
The chair in the Parlor was made in the late 1600s, meaning the Hegeler family bought it “used” when they moved into the Mansion in the late 1870s. This chair is approximately 350 years old! If you have taken one of our tours and were told not to touch or sit on things, this is why. Now, the history:
Girolamo Savonarola was a monk who lived in Florence during the Italian Renaissance. He was a moral dictator who burned anything he considered to be immoral or lascivious, be it art or books or even suggestive carvings in furniture, sparking the bonfire of the vanities. He was executed in 1498.
In order to travel the country, a special chair was made for him. Similar chairs were in existence long before, but this particular, portable design was made just for him. Savonarola chairs only hold about 180-220 pounds.
Originally used as hall chairs, they were more for decoration than actual seating. A loose cushion was usually added for looks and comfort. Many reproductions of the chair are still made.
Below is a close-up of our 350 year-old chair that is currently in the Parlor. The second picture is an example of what it would look like folded up, ready for travel.
Make sure you check out the chairs on your next tour, but DON’T SIT DOWN!