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Drexel Dry Bars

Drexel Furniture (UNITED STATES)

While vintage Drexel Furniture dining tables, dressers and other pieces remain highly desirable for enthusiasts of mid-century modern design, the manufacturer's story actually begins decades before its celebrated postwar-era Declaration line took shape.

In 1903, in the small town of Drexel in the foothills of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, six partners came together to found a company that would become one of the country’s leading furniture producers. The first offerings from Drexel Furniture were simple: a bed, washstand and bureau all crafted from native oakwood, sold as a bedroom suite for $14.50.

One of Drexel’s early innovations was to employ staff designers, something the company initiated in the 1930s. This focus on design, which few other furniture companies were committing to at the time, allowed Drexel to respond to a variety of new and traditional tastes. This included making pieces inspired by historic European furniture, like the popular French provincial–style Touraine bedroom and dining group that borrowed its curves from Louis XV-era furniture. Others replicated the ornate details of 18th-century chinoiserie or the embellishments of Queen Anne furniture. Always ready to adapt to new customer demands, during World War II, Drexel built a sturdy desk designed especially for General Douglas MacArthur.

In the postwar era, Drexel embraced the clean lines of mid-century modernism with the Declaration collection designed by Stewart MacDougall and Kipp Stewart that featured elegant credenzas and more made in walnut and the Profile and Projection collections designed with sculptural shapes by John Van Koert. In the 1970s, Drexel introduced high-end furniture in a Mediterranean style.

Drexel changed hands and visions throughout the years. It was managed by one of the original partners — Samuel Huffman — until 1935, at which time his son Robert O. Huffman took over as president. It was then that the company began to expand, with several acquisitions of competitors in the 1950s, including Table Rock Furniture, the Heritage Furniture Co. and more. With the manufacturer’s success — spurred by its embrace of advertising in home and garden magazines — it opened more factories in both North and South Carolina. By 1957, the company that had started with a factory of 50 workers had 2,300 employees and was selling its furniture nationwide.

Drexel underwent a series of name changes in its long history. Its acquisition of Southern Desk Company in 1960 bolstered its production of institutional furniture for dormitories, classrooms, churches and laboratories. In the following decades, contracts with government agencies, hotels, schools and hospitals brought its high-quality furniture to a global audience. U.S. Plywood-Champion Papers bought Drexel Enterprises in 1968, and it became Drexel Heritage Furnishings. 

In 2014, the last Drexel Heritage plant, in Morganton, North Carolina, reportedly closed its doors. The company rebranded as Drexel in 2017.

The range of vintage Drexel furniture for sale on 1stDibs includes end tables designed by Edward Wormley, walnut dining tables designed by Kipp Stewart and lots more.

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Drexel Fruitwood Mid-Century Modern Flip Top Bar Liquor Cabinet
By Drexel, Baker Furniture Company
Located in Rockaway, NJ
Drexel drop pulls Mid-Century Modern liquor cabinet bar on wheels.
Category

20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Drexel Dry Bars

Materials

Brass

1940s Edward Wormley Silver Elm Dry Bar Cabinet
By Edward Wormley, Drexel
Located in Miami, FL
REDUCED FROM $1,250....Part of Edward Wormley's Precedent Collection for Drexel of the late 1940s, this dry bar cabinet in silver elmwood has been beautifully restored and features i...
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1940s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Drexel Dry Bars

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