Quirky Vt. Landmark, ‘a Piece of Our History,' Damaged by Late-Night Climbers

A chair more than 19 feet tall has been a familiar sight in Bennington for decades

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Preliminary work is underway to investigate if and how a credit union can replace a piece of local history in southwestern Vermont that was badly damaged last week.

"It's a piece of our history, for sure," said Linda Bow, an employee of the Tri-State Area Federal Credit Union branch in Bennington, referring to the wrecked landmark outside the credit union offices.

A nearly-20-foot-tall, 3,000-pound timber ladderback chair — a replica of one from the 1940s that at the time was believed to be the world's largest — now sits outside the credit union.

Earlier versions of the giant chair were mainstays in town for decades at a pair of furniture stores.

The chair's latest chapter, recorded faintly on the drive-thru teller window's surveillance camera, was written late last week. Four young people were seen on video climbing on the chair after 3 a.m. Thursday, July 29, according to the credit union and Bennington Police.

A sign on the massive chair asks that you stay off.

"It's a terrible thing," Kristie Brock, who works near the chair, said of the damage. "People need to just stop and think about what they're doing to other people's property."

Bennington Police described the group in a Facebook post as being made up of two males and two females.

They might have been trying to have fun, but they ended up busting the seat and damaging key joints.

"It's just too bad," Bow said, adding that looking at the damage leaves her sad as she thinks of the "lack of respect" shown to the oversized piece of furniture.

Bow said visitors come through all the time to snap photos, since Bennington's famous chair has long been listed in travel guides as a quirky roadside attraction.

"It would be great if it was repaired, because it has been a part of our town for a long time," said Dennis Murray, a member of the Tri-State Area Federal Credit Union.

The credit union has already started the process of collecting estimates, Bow said, trying to figure out what it would take to repair the chair.

"That's not a chair, it's a sculpture," insisted Paula LaPorte, a likely contractor for a repair who works across the street from the damaged chair.

LaPorte was fixing the woven seat of a normal-sized chair Tuesday, and also wove the marine-grade rope seat on the huge chair that was wrecked last week.

"It's a lot of rope," LaPorte noted, adding that she will need an assistant to do the weaving in order to get the required tension. "It's a big job."

Bennington Police are looking for those four who were caught on camera, asking on Facebook for anyone with information to call 802-442-1030.

Bow said the credit union hopes to be able to return the behemoth chair fully to its former glory — a history that is both strange and charming. Several community members NECN spoke to Tuesday appreciated hearing that the credit union is working on preserving the oversized piece of Bennington history.

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