Furniture

The “Fabulous Furniture” Exhibit explored the history of furniture building in Lowell and the connection to Grand Rapids’ furniture industry.
kopf lowell furniture co.

The Lowell Furniture Company, also known as the Kopf Furniture Factory, was located in Segwun, just across the Grand River from Lowell. The Kopf Factory began production in 1867 and produced over 20,000 pieces annually. Cane seat chairs of cherry and walnut were a specialty. Other items produced were stands, drop-leaf tables, desks, bed-steads and caskets. The power source for the factory was from a dam on Kopf Creek.  “The spring in the creek flows 2 cubic feet per second and never dries or freezes up. The mill pond also supplied the water for the Lowell & Hastings Railroad and the Tucker WoodImplement Factory upstream.” Sales, both wholesale and retail, and shipping were handled in town in the Kopf three-story building at 212 E Main Street.John Kopf (1828-1888) was a German cabinetmaker who immigrated to America in 1848. He married Mary Jane Lang in New York, and they moved to Lowell in 1855.  Active in civic affairs, Kopf was co-founder of Loan National Bank, served on the Lowell Board of Education, was a trustee for the Congregational Church when it was being built, and a member of Hooker Chapter Royal Arch Masons and the Knights Templar. John and Mary Jane Kopf’s house was built in 1857 on 12 acres of land purchased from Daniel Marsac, founder of Lowell. It still stands on Grand River Drive on what was the eastern boundary of their furniture factory. Kopf descendants remain in the area.

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Superior drawers
Superior Furniture was founded in 1936 by William S. Lee in the small West Michigan town of Lowell, just 20 miles from Grand Rapids, known as “furniture city” since the 1860’s. It was only natural that the company be named Superior Furniture Company, a name that reflects the quality design, craftsmanship, and materials that go into every hand-finished product. Today Superior Furniture offers nine different product lines with over 200 models, in infinite variation—made of solid cherry, maple, pine, and alder, as well as exceptional wood veneers where appropriate. Each piece is made the old-fashioned way—hands-on, patient, and crafted—utilizing 40 different operations on a typical table, from cutting, boring, and shaping, to dovetailing all drawers, carvings, and the incomparable multi-step, hand-rubbed finish that has been the hallmark of Superior Furniture.

tuckertown factory

Erwin W. Tucker built and operated a grain cradle, wooden hand rake and bed bottom factory a couple miles southeast of Lowell from 1862-1872. His first mill was a 3-story frame building, adding a new mill or shop in 1868. “In the one item of grain cradles they have facilities for manufacturing 1,200 dozen per year, besides bed-bottoms and harvesting implements, such as hay-rakes etc.” This was run by an overshot water-wheel and employed from 20 to 60 workers.
After the Tuckers sold their factory to Warren Babcock, they moved to Grand Haven and then to Indianapolis, Indiana. Mr. Tucker died there in 1878 and Mrs. Tucker in 1919. However, they are buried in South Boston Cemetery, Boston Township, five miles southeast of Lowell.
Mr. Gary Hammond of Long Island, New York, owns the original model of the bed bottom patented by Erwin Tucker, U.S. Patent #53,706 on April 3, 1866. Hammond describes his model as “constructed just like a full-size piece of furniture, including mortise and tenon construction of the legs and head/foot rails, with miniature brass gears for adjustment.” The novel thing about Tucker’s invention is it would fit into any frame and headboard and allow the head of the bed to be elevated or lowered substantially.
 Mr. Hammond also has the patent papers and diagram of a revolving horse rake by Erwin W. Tucker of Grand Haven, Michigan, filed in 1873, granted in 1874.  The current owner of the property operates a hobby blacksmith business, which he calls “Tuckertown Forge.”