Get to know the man behind Ethan Allen Day. He was a pioneer and a patriot—and a bit of a troublemaker, too!
Pioneers are the first explorers of a new territory. They start with a vision, often risking life, limb, and lucre to journey into the unknown. Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys were pioneers—let's be honest, they were rabble-rousers, too—and their pioneering spirit was an essential ingredient in the founding of both Vermont and America itself.
In 2016, to celebrate Ethan Allen, Vermont declared June 23 to be Ethan Allen Day. To celebrate this special day, we'd like to tell you a little bit about our namesake and how we work, as a company, to keep his pioneering spirit alive.
A Youth Adrift
Once upon a time, there was a little strip of land between New York and New Hampshire. It was bordered by the Connecticut River to the east, Lake Champlain to the west, Quebec to the north, and Massachusetts to the south. Both New York and New Hampshire decided they owned this disputed territory, which would come to be known as Vermont.
New York began issuing land grants to settlers—and so did New Hampshire. New York's grants were irregularly shaped tracts given to the wealthy and well connected. New Hampshire's land grants were town-sized, with neat borders, bestowed mostly upon middle class frontiersmen. One of those grantees was Ethan Allen, a descendent of English Puritan farmers, who'd grown up in Cornwall, Connecticut.
Ethan became a bit of a drifter after his father's death in 1755. He joined the militia to fight the French and Indian War, but he never got into the fight. He tended the family farm for a bit and then went into business as part owner of an iron furnace. He also dabbled in philosophy and, randomly, was kicked out of Northampton, Massachusetts; no one really knows why. In 1762, Ethan married Mary Brownson—unhappily, according to biographer Charles Jellison, for she was illiterate, rigidly religious, and quick to criticize her husband—and then fathered five children, only two of whom reached adulthood.
Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys
Serendipity came, in two forms, to Ethan Allen in the 1770s. First, he was asked to defend a family member's claim to a New Hampshire land grant after King George III—among his many ill-fated decisions—ruled that Vermont belonged to New York. After some unsuccessful amateur lawyering, Ethan traveled to Bennington, where he rustled up an entourage in the form of the Green Mountain Boys. Together, the gangsters started trying to drive New York settlers out of Vermont.
A second stroke of luck came when the American Revolution began, and Vermont declared its independence from Great Britain. Ethan Allen's Green Mountain Boys rose in rank from hoodlums to heroes when they captured Fort Ticonderoga for the Yanks. It wasn't too much of a stretch for Ethan—raiding New York was a thing he and his friends liked to do anyway—but the outcome had a happy result for the Americans; cutting off the fort also cut British communication lines between Quebec and points east.
After the Revolution
Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys achieved prime patriot status, but it took a while for Ethan to find his happily ever after. The Green Mountain Boys voted him out as their leader after the capture of Fort Ticonderoga. He then tried to invade Quebec and ended up a prisoner of war. Following his release, his wife Mary died in 1782.
Mary's passing left Ethan surprisingly sad—perhaps she improved in hindsight. He launched a spotty writing career by publishing both a poem for Mary and a treatise called Reason, the latter of which was panned as "crude," "vulgar," and "flimsy."
Last Years in Vermont
Maturity brought an end, as it does for so many, to Ethan Allen's wandering ways. He wrote a sequel to Reason, remarried (more happily this time), and fathered three more children. By the time of his death in 1789, he was revered for his role in establishing the state of Vermont, which achieved official recognition in 1791.
In death as in life, Ethan Allen seemed to be one of those people about whom there was no indifferent opinion. He was described by one local reverend, according to Jellison, as "a profane deist, who died with a mind replete with horror and despair." On his tombstone, however, inscribed by those who apparently liked him better, were these kinder words: "His spirit tried the mercies of his God, in whom he alone believed and strongly trusted."
Of course, someone stole Ethan's tombstone in the early 1850s. The state of Vermont kindly replaced it in 1858.
Ethan Allen, the Company
About one hundred fifty years later, When Nat Ancell and Ted Baumritter bought a Vermont sawmill and started manufacturing furniture, they named their 1939 new releases after a local hero: Ethan Allen. That line of furniture became the Baumritter Company's most popular; eventually, Nat changed the company name to Ethan Allen.
As it has grown from a local furniture producer to an internationally renowned brand, Ethan Allen the company has drawn on the best of the pioneering spirit that characterized its namesake. In the 1960s, Ethan Allen unveiled a whole new way to shop for furniture. Instead of arranging furniture in rows—lines of chairs, lines of tables, etc.—the company asked retailers to showcase each piece as part of a room setting.
Ethan Allen expanded this practice further in its own stores, creating gallery showrooms that made it easier for clients to picture how new furniture would look in their homes. The company made that visualization even easier in the 1990s, when it started hiring designers and offering free design service to anyone who shopped at Ethan Allen.
As 2020 approaches, the company continues its pioneer journey by embracing technology both in and out of the Design Center: in, with an incredibly realistic design studio experience; and out, with the Ethan Allen inHome augmented reality app. We aim to be less troublesome than our namesake, but we try to bring a little of his fearlessness into everything we do, from the styles we create to the way we market—and to our willingness to embrace the opportunities that come our way.
Check out these images from our company's Ethan Allen Day celebration! Then, join us in lifting a glass to Ethan Allen, a mischief-maker turned philosopher turned statesman. Here's to those who embody the pioneer spirit, in business and in life.
P.S. Sometimes, we talk about history, but mostly we talk about design here at The Art of Making Home. If you enjoy our posts, subscribe now to get the latest and greatest in your inbox.
This Father’s Day, we’re taking a break from design to ponder why so many famous, fictional dads are either wise and wonderful—or really dumb. Think you know pop culture? Take our quiz.
Somehow, fathers have locked down the reputation for being the wise and insightful parent (if you don’t believe this is a thing, just check out the Father’s Day greeting card assortment at a store near you). Hollywood has always loved a smart and sympathetic father figure—think Mufasa, Atticus Finch. (Of course, this doesn’t explain Thanos or Darth Vader.) But TV is overpopulated with bumbling and hapless fathers, dads who are never in on the joke—from Phil Dunphy to Homer Simpson (most of the sage, if sometimes clueless, TV dads—from sitcoms most of you won’t remember, like Father Knows Best—are long gone.
In honor of Father’s Day, we tried to wrap our heads around this dichotomy of cads vs. dear old dads, and this is what we found out:
Most fictional fathers are more complex than we give credit for.
The wisest dads have been known to spout stupid things.
Even the dopiest dads sneak in a good line every now and again.
With that, we’d like to share some fatherly pearls of wisdom written for some (mostly) awesome characters in (mostly) recent memory—and wish a happy day to all the dads out there who like to keep us guessing!
Who said it?
1. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.
A. Han Solo, Star Wars
B. Charles Ingalls, Little House on the Prairie
C. Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird2. That’s the main thing … the goal that every individual is shooting for … It’s kinda the prize of the game: to be happy.
A. Forrest Gump, Forrest Gump
B. Andy Taylor, The Andy Griffith Show
C. Chief Martin Brody, Jaws 3. A wrong decision is better than indecision.
A. Walter White, Breaking Bad
B. Howard Cunningham, Happy Days
C. Tony Soprano, The Sopranos4. The most amazing things that can happen to a human being will happen to you if you just lower your expectations.
A. Phil Dunphy, Modern Family
B. Frank Gallagher, Shameless
C. Don Draper, Mad Men5. It's so simple to be wise… just think of something stupid to say and then don't say it.
A. Homer Simpson, The Simpsons
B. Dre Johnson, Black-ish
C. Jay Pritchett, Modern Family6. A wise king never seeks out war, but he must always be ready for it.
A. King T’Challa, Black Panther
B. Odin, Thor
C. Ned Stark, Game of Thrones 7. Well, that's the thing about life, it’s the surprises, the little things, that sneak up on you and grab hold of you.
A. George Banks, Father of the Bride
B. George McFly, Back to the Future
C. George Bailey, It’s a Wonderful Life8. Alone, we can only move buckets. But if we work together, we can drain rivers.
A. John Walton Sr., The Waltons
B. Mike Brady, The Brady Bunch
C. Danny Tanner, Full House9. There's nothing you can get from a book that you can't get from a television faster.
A. Frank Reynolds, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
B. Harry Wormwood, Matilda
C. Archie Bunker, All in the Family10. I'm only brave when I have to be.Being brave doesn't mean you go looking for trouble.
A. Herman Munster, The Munsters
B. Bryan Mills, Taken
C. Mufasa, The Lion King11. A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.
A.Jack Byrnes, Meet the Parents
C. Clark Griswold, National Lampoon’s Vacation
D. Vito Corleone, The GodfatherANSWERS:
1. Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird
2. Andy Taylor, The Andy Griffith Show
3. Tony Soprano, The Sopranos
4. Phil Dunphy, Modern Family
5. Homer Simpson, The Simpsons6. Odin, Thor
7. George Banks, Father of the Bride
8. Mike Brady, The Brady Bunch
9. Harry Wormwood, Matilda
10. Mufasa, The Lion King
11. Vito Corleone, The Godfather
For more Father’s Day conversation starters, subscribe to The Art of Making Home and check us out on Instagram @ethanallen.
Bit by bit, piece by piece, we put together this game-changer of an ad to let the world know that Ethan Allen's designers – and the free design service they provide – are the best in the business.Every detail mattersis Ethan Allen's brand statement. It's a promise that what we stand for – from manufacturing to logistics to the Design Center floor; from service to the stitching on a sofa to the finish on a well-crafted coffee table – is attention to every little thing. It's kind of a big deal!
Music: Putting it Together, Sondheim; arranged and recorded by Anna Dellaria.
Girl Scout troop members try their hands at interior design in our Whippany, New Jersey, Design Center.
Go-getters. Innovators. Risk-takers. Leaders. In other words, the power of G.I.R.L. On December 3, the Whippany Ethan Allen team had the privilege to offer nearly 40 Girl Scouts a behind-the-scenes peek into the wonderful world of interior design.
Scouts from grades three to eight came prepared with design ideas; the older participants even brought their own handmade pillows and artwork to coordinate with Ethan Allen furniture and accessories. The scouts toured the Design Center and took copious notes on their favorite styles. Ethan Allen | Disney was a big hit, especially when the designers-in-training saw that they could mix elements of this whimsical line with other styles they liked.
The young designers sketched layouts for the bedrooms of their dreams, choosing the lighting, seating, and bed that best fit their vision. All the participants were thoughtful and engaged in each aspect of the process as they carefully considered elements like color, texture, scale, and proportion.
The scouts earned a Room Makeover Badge for their participation. They also received custom-made Ethan Allen Design Badges in recognition of their excellent work. Ethan Allen designers Linda Tann and Lydia Marmisch-Morano, along with Design Center manager Susan Vena, served as their guides.
To all the future designers who attended, we look forward to seeing your portfolios and resumes in a few years! Many thanks to Girl Scouts, Heart of New Jersey for giving us the chance to inspire the next generation of creative design pros.
When Buffalo's John R. Oishei Children's Hospital opened its doors recently, Ethan Allen of Western New York was there to help celebrate.
As one of many area donors who helped to raise nearly $55 million toward the establishment of New York state's only freestanding children's hospital, independent retailer Ken Slomovitz realized that he – and Ethan Allen – had more than money to contribute.
Ken and his team outfitted the hospital's bright, airy 11th-floor Imagination Room with furniture and accents from the Ethan Allen | Disney collection – what a wonderful use of these fun, kid-centric furnishings! Families visiting the hospital now have space for playing, reading, drawing, playing games, and making new friends. It's a fun area families can use during quick appointments, and a vibrant, welcoming retreat for families of kids who are at the hospital for long-term treatment.
"I want to just say that Ethan Allen is proud to be part of this, and proud to be part of the Western New York community," said Ken during the donor recognition event.
And we're proud to have thoughtful, generous people like Ken representing our brand. We hope the Imagination Room at the John R. Oishei Children's Hospital is a comfortable and happy space for patients and their families for many years to come.
Happy birthday to us! Ethan Allen is 85 years young!
To celebrate, we’re dusting off our old scrapbooks and sharing some great memories. When you’ve been around as long as we have, you see a lot of trends come and go … and it’s fair to say we’ve lived in more than a few “of-the-moment” rooms. We’ve discovered some fun pics from decades past, including this one featuring red shag carpeting and wallpaper in the same pattern as the sofa (the ’70s were something else)!
Did you grow up with Ethan Allen furniture? Did you sleep in one of our beds? Do you remember Thanksgiving dinner at one of our tables? Why not join the party? If you have any photos you’d like to share, we’d love to see them!
And because we keep making memories every day, we’d also love to see how you live with Ethan Allen now. Let’s enjoy a blast from the past—and present—together. Share your memories—tag your photos with #EthanAllenThenAndNow—and we’ll do the same!
It’s our anniversary! This fall we’re celebrating 85 years of craftsmanship, innovation, style, service, and quality. We picked Labor Day to kick off the party—a day that honors the great tradition of the American worker. Appropriately, we’re celebrating 85 years of jobs well done. We’re so incredibly proud of our workers—from the craftspeople who make our wood pieces to the designers who help our customers create beautiful rooms.
Throughout September we’ll be celebrating our history (look for highlights of our timeline), our favorite anniversary palette (beautiful black and gold), and the creativity of our artisans. We’ll be sharing entertaining “then and now” stories and going behind the scenes inside our photo studio and manufacturing plants.
Don’t worry. We’ll still be sharing our Design Stars’ stories and serving up fresh decorating ideas, but we’ve got some serious celebrating to do this September.
We may be 85, but we can party with the best of them—come along for the ride!
—The Ethan Allen Design Team