The History of Woodard Furniture

The History of Woodard Furniture

Woodard Furniture offers one of the most extensive histories in the industry of all the wicker furniture brands available. This furniture brand began in the late 1800s. It has persisted through many changes to become one of the brands you recognize today.

Starting Woodard Furniture

Lyman E. Woodard started Woodard Furniture as Woodard Brothers with his three brothers in Owosso, Michigan in 1866. The company started with an eclectic mix of furniture, blinds, window sashes, and coffins.

Dividing the Business

By 1880, the company was thriving. The casket business grew so much that it split into a second business in the early 1880s, and the Owosso Casket Company was born. Eventually, Lyman Woodard bought out his brothers’ shares and brought his sons into the business.

During this period, there were at least two major factory fires that Woodard needed to overcome. The new casket factory burned down in 1888. In 1898, there was also a fire in the furniture factory. Both times, the Woodards quickly rebuilt the factories.

The Early 1900s

In 1901, The Owosso Casket Company was incorporated as a separate company. It’s one of the most widely recognized casket companies in the United States. Two U.S. Presidents are buried in them. Woodard brand furniture is also gaining popularity.

At this point, Woodard Brothers obtains new factories for its furniture in Owosso. However, in 1904, founder Lyman Woodard dies, and his sons inherit the business. A cyclone in 1911 that devastates the factory and the Spanish flu in 1918 round out the decade.

By 1920, The Owosso Casket Company is the largest manufacturer in the world. However, the Great Depression strikes along with a lumber shortage. Woodard Brothers is eventually replaced with the name Woodard & Sons, which focused on metal furniture.

The Middle of the Century with Woodard Furniture

The 1940s mean the Woodard furniture factories retooled to make truck parts during WW2. After the war, the Woodards begin producing award-winning and iconic furniture sets. The company introduced its famous Sculptura chairs in 1956.

By 1960, the Woodard furniture empire produces 100,000 furniture pieces per year. In 1962, the Mayfield collection appeared, and 1978 brings the classic Arnold Palmer collection. These collections make the Woodard furniture empire a leading wrought iron furniture manufacturer.

Woodard Furniture Enters the New Millennium

In 1994, Woodard Furniture was considered so iconic that The Smithsonian Design Museum adds a Sculptura chair to the permanent collection. However, the company also consolidates its manufacturing back to Owosso, Michigan during this period.

In 2008, Craftmade acquired the Woodard Furniture empire. Woodard Furniture was then sold to Litex in 2011. However, the company continues to design signature collections throughout the transition, like the 2011 Jax Collection that won a National Design Excellence Award.

In 2013, Woodard Furniture acquired Whitecraft. Whitecraft produced woven outdoor furniture, and Woodard Furniture used this expertise to perfect wicker furniture pieces. The outdoor furniture options matched up with the company’s standards of excellence.

2016: 150 Years

In 2016, Woodard Furniture celebrated its 150th anniversary in business. Today, Woodard Furniture produces iron, aluminum, and wicker furniture. You can find Woodard Furniture products wherever furniture is sold.