Elder Brewster armchair


about 1875–1895

Object Place: Probably Massachusetts, United States


114.3 x 53.34 x 44.45 cm (45 x 21 x 17 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Oak, maple

Not On View




Seating and beds

Colonial Revival. Baluster turned legs, arm supports and spindles. Acorn finials surmount the back posts. Blue and red plush carpet covers the seat.


Stenciled in black on the front of both back posts, near top: ELDER / BREWSTER / 1620


According to family tradition, this chair was presented to Samuel Francis Smith (1808-1895), a Baptist minster who wrote the lyrics for "My Country, 'Tis of Thee") by the City of Boston at 1876 Centennial celebration in Boston (1) (2); descended to grandson, Harry Wilde Jones, to Smith's great grand-daughter Mary White Jones, of Hennepin County, Minnesota; 1978, purchased by the to MFA via Mrs. Susie Fullerton of Jackson Center, Ohio (Accession Date October 18, 1978).

1. Research suggests that the chair was not presented to SFS at a Centennial celebration in 1876, but more likely at a nationwide celebration of Samuel Francis Smith, as the author of the song "America" (My Country, 'Tis of Thee), in Boston on April 3, 1895. See object file for extensive newspaper coverage of the event.
2. The object file also contains an image of the chair in the parlor of Samuel Francis Smith at 1181 Center Street, Newton Centre, Mass., with its original leather seat showing. The photography was authenticated by Mary White Jones in 1948 (see object file).

Credit Line

Arthur Mason Knapp Fund