Every once in a while, life leads us on a journey that opens up a window, a door, a whole new world of opportunity to give back in ways that can benefit an entire industry for generations to come and that builds on the vision of those who came before them.
Today’s post is the story of the recent dedication ceremony of the new Hadley Court Center for Design Collaboration at the Bienenstock Furniture Library at High Point Market.
But first, let me share a bit about the history of the library with you, readers, in case you’re not familiar with it.
What is the Bienenstock Furniture Library?
The Bienenstock Furniture Library is our country’s only library dedicated to the preservation of the knowledge of the history of the furniture industry and furniture design. It is located at 1009 N. Main Street in High Point, North Carolina.
It contains the country’s largest collection of extremely rare books on furniture and furniture design history that is free and open to the public – although access to this room requires an appointment with the library’s director, Karla Teague Webb, which can be made by emailing her at [email protected]
The library’s climate controlled rare book room contains volumes dating back to 1640 and it is the only library in America that houses the original works of 18th century furniture masters Chippendale, Sheraton and Hepplewhite, as well as a complete set of Diderot’s Encyclopedia -two volumes of which can be seen in the picture above.
All in all, the library contains over 8000 books on furniture and interior design + many periodicals, including over 100 years worth of issues of Antiques Magazine.
It is run by a volunteer board of directors, currently chaired by the grandson of the founders: Mr. Russell Bienenstock, Editor In Chief of Furniture World magazine, the longest continuously published trade magazine for the furniture industry in our country – celebrating over 140 years of continuously publishing valuable information to retailers of furniture around the world.
To read more about Furniture World magazine, click here.
It is a treasure trove of inspiration for anyone interested in design.
Students, furniture designers, interior designers, scholars, design bloggers and lovers of furniture and design from all over the world come to the library to conduct research.
In addition, thanks to the library’s generous endowment by the founders, the library has given out scholarships, since 1984, of over $400,000.00 to the winners of its annual furniture design and interior design student competitions.
The library was the vision of founders Sandy and Bernice Bienenstock, shown below, who began collecting books about furniture and furniture design back in 1922 when the Grayson House, the current home of the library and now listed on the National Register of Historic Homes, was their family home.
In 1970, The Bienenstock Furniture Library was dedicated by Terry Sanford [ on the left in this picture below]. Mr. Sanford was, at that time, President of Duke University. He went on to serve as a North Carolina Senator and was the 65th Governor of North Carolina.
Right before the library opened, everyone in North Carolina in the furniture industry turned out to see what it was going to be all about. Today, the library’s landscaping looks much different on the outside, but the building is forever, constructed as it is out of basalt.
Today, a beautiful oil portrait of Sandy and Bernice Bienenstock presides over one of the library’s rooms that everyone is welcome to visit.
As with all institutions, current times call for change and growth to meet the demands of the community, the designers, students and scholars of today and tomorrow, and at last fall’s High Point market, Leslie Hendrix Wood was introduced to the library for the first time. She met with many of the library’s board members, specifically Mr. Charles Sutton, shown below with Leslie.
At that time, Mr. Sutton was Chairman of the Board of Directors and he shared his vision with Leslie for building out a center in the library that would allow for design collaboration through the addition of a beautiful center containing state of the art audio visual equipment that would allow for Livestreaming and recorded video.
After carefully considering it, Leslie decided to underwrite this room for the students and scholars of today and tomorrow and at this fall’s High Point Market, the dedication of the Bienenstock Furniture Library’s Hadley Court Center for Design Collaboration was held – and what a joyous moment it was for all involved.
Leslie is shown with Karla Teague Webb, the library’s director, involved with the library for over 20 years now, and Mr. Russell Bienenstock.
The excellent dedication talk on Collaboration in Design, given by Mary Douglas Drysdale, was by invite only since the Center holds only 25 people, but it was videotaped as the 1st talk in the Library’s new DISTINGUISHED SPEAKER series.
As all know, it takes a dedicated team of volunteers to run any non-profit organization and it was Christi Spangle, pictured below, the senior partner in High Point based Barbour Spangle Design, who donated her time to design the beautiful new Hadley Court Center For Design Collaboration. Christi later won 2nd place for her design in the *Specialty Space* category in the ASID Carolinas competition!
When this picture was taken, Christi had just come from working at market, where her firm is responsible for designing the showroom spaces of many of the exhibitors there.
Only after Leslie had made the decision to underwrite the Center did she find out that one of her Midland, Texas high school friends, Steven Dragisic, whom she hadn’t seen since high school, was director of development at the Reynolda House Museum in Winston – Salem, which Mr. Sutton is very involved with, too.
What a wonderful small world social media story – that all came to light originally through Facebook!
Here she is shown with Steven at the dedication ceremony.
As I was leaving High Point Market last Wednesday, I stopped in to thank Karla, on behalf of Leslie, for all of her hard work over the many months of construction and planning that it took to make the new Hadley Court Center become a reality.
Leslie and I also want to thank here Ed Tashjian and Stephanie Lowder, who also serve as volunteers on the board of directors on the marketing committee and who spent countless hours of volunteer time this past year working on all the details of what made this dedication ceremony so special.
And lastly, I stopped to take some pictures of the beautiful new Pat Plaxico Sculpture Gardens, now in its 1st year of fall bloom. Two of them are below [ the 1st one is courtesy of Alderman and Company, also a long time volunteer member of the library’s board and responsible for donating the library’s website at
Pat Plaxico has been a volunteer on the board of the library for over 40 years now and adapted for re-use many of the historic buildings now in use for the exhibitors at High Point Market -including the Historic Market Square building.
She is a legend in High Point.
Look at how her vision has bloomed.
Did you see this in the Spring when the sculpture gardens were first dedicated?
In life, we never know where the path may lead, but it all starts with a vision…and we hope your path leads you to use the Bienenstock Furniture Library’s new Hadley Court Center for Design Collaboration for your meetings, your presentations, your webinars and seminars — containing the latest in AV equipment that Karla has been trained to use – to help make your visions come to life in a collaborative, high tech and beautiful space.
If you’d like to reserve it for use, please email Karla at [email protected] for all the details and if you’d like to join in and be a part of the library’s new
FRIENDS OF THE LIBRARY program, please ask Karla about that, too.
You will be welcomed with open arms to help continue the vision and share the mission that the Bienenstock family started…
to spread the knowledge of the history of furniture and interior design – through books and education – to all future generations.
Leslie Hendrix Wood
Leslie Hendrix Wood Interiors
Owner, the Hadley Court blog
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