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Motel Chairs

 

Motel Chairs are painted metal chairs with tubular legs and armrests. Invented in the 1940s, they are known as Motel Chairs because early motels often placed them outside their guest rooms. They became popular as patio chairs, and are still manufactured by several companies today.

My grandparents had a pair of them, which had originally belonged to grandma's parents. Like most older examples, theirs changed colors several times over the years, as they need to be repainted occasionally to prevent rusting. My grandparents' chairs were red when I was very young, and were yellow by the time that I began photographing them as a teenager in the early 1990s.

When I began documenting rural Indiana several years later, I noticed that many old farmers had a pair of motel chairs on the porch or patio. Often, the chairs had some rust and peeling paint, and most had changed colors numerous times over the years.

What really struck me about the chairs was that they are almost always found in pairs. It is rare to see just one, by itself, or a group of more than two. Like the elderly people who owned them, the chair couples sat together for decades, rusting away with age. No one does that anymore.

 

 

 

 

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