Ann Lee
With the Adirondack chair, necessity was the mother of invention

DESIGNED more than 100 years ago, the Adirondack chair has become an emblem of American summer -- a symbol of the country's simpler virtues, "just like Mom and apple pie," says Craig Gilborn, former director of the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake, N.Y. With its wide armrests, slanted back and steeply sloped seat, the chair has inspired umpteen incarnations -- even lightweight resin versions textured to look like wood. They sell for less than $20 apiece at hardware and garden stores, where many are tempted to sit a spell and see if the seat is more comfortable than it looks. It is. Gilborn says that's because the original, built around 1900 by Massachusetts...