Rolling the Dice: Restoring Iconic AC Boardwalk Chair Labor of Love

Every once and awhile I get a call to work on a rare restoration project and recently it was from someone restoring an Atlantic City Rolling Chair in need of new cushions. Although, this is an everyday job here at Custom Alley – as my uncle would say “the gravy” – it’s also very interesting.

Atlantic City Rolling Chairs were developed in the 1870; soon after the completion of the boardwalk, by a Mr. Hayday. The design was based on a wheel chair with the intention of providing handicapped access on the boardwalk. Soon, though, people were faking a disability in order to use them, and an iconic business was born.

Below, left, an Atlantic City Rolling Chair in use on the iconic Boardwalk. Bottom, right, the restored rolling chair with new stripped fabrics.

My clients are a couple who embarked on a true labor of love when they came across a rolling chair for sale. They started the restoration, taking the chair apart bolt by bolt and soaking years of rust off of them. They scraped the paint off using a dental tool and re-wove the tops and bottoms of the wicker body. It took three cow hides before they got the right leather for the top.

For me, this is a simple everyday job but for them it’s the icing on the cake. Needless to say, I needed to get these cushions right! I refer to the pillows on a sofa or a table runner as the jewelry and the right jewelry makes an outfit.

Well my clients did an amazing job and I got to add the finishing touch. They posted a video on YouTube, if you want to see more, it’s fascinating!

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