Stopping Time on the Westport Chair Trail

by | Westport Events

The Westport Chair Trail is an installation of eight chairs placed around town in an effort to remind people to "slow with the flow."
Artist Jasmine Horn with the Stopping Time Westport Chair at Snowfort

On Friday night, we celebrated the just-inaugurated Westport Chair Trail with a stroll through town to see eight newly installed oversized chairs that now grace sidewalks and lawns around Westport. Snowfort has the great honor of being the site of the incredible Stopping Time chair painted by Jasmine Horn. A brainchild-turned-reality of the inimitable Jennifer Williams (who moved here with her family the very same month we did), the Westport Chair Trail is an initiative of the Westport-Wadhams Community Alliance’s Safe Roads Task Force:

The 2.3-mile Westport Chair Trail loop reminds us not to rush but to move slow with the flow through our beautiful lakeside town. It’s a pedestrian-friendly attraction and an amazing photo-op too! You can tour eight Westport Chairs on foot via the digital trail map here, and you can also take a short scenic drive to the ninth chair, a “Satellite Seat” located at DaCY Meadow Farm’s Toll Gate house on Route 9N, and explore 3.5 miles of CATS hiking trails there.

Grace right after using these giant scissors for the ribbon-cutting on Friday night.

We were surprised and delighted to be chosen as a site for one of the chairs. “Snowfort has already proven itself as a family-friendly community hub where locals gather to learn, work, play, and co-create a bright future for Westport,” said Trail Creator, Jen Williams. “It’s also a ‘win’ that its Main St location is a prime position to serve as a beacon of public art and public safety to all approaching our town.”

If you’re not from around here and haven’t visited, your main association with the Adirondacks is probably the ubiquitous Adirondack chair. And you’ve probably never heard of our tiny town of Westport, New York. I hadn’t heard of it either, until the very year we moved here. I did know (probably because I grew up in the “late 1900s” as the kids say now) that Adirondack chairs were traditionally made of wood, not plastic and sold in every conceivable color, but I had no idea that the original design was called a Westport Chair, and made out of hemlock. It was designed by Thomas Lee around the turn of the 20th century, as I learned recently from one of his descendants, a painter named Ellen Few Anderson. She also told me about the family’s connection to John Brown. I could go down quite a rabbit hole about all that, but I’ll just link to this article instead.

Jasmine Horn, the artist, begins her bio by saying, “I am a mom first, but I am also an artist.” This resonates with me personally, of course, and also with the impetus behind Snowfort, where I hope that care and art-making interrelate, and nurture each other rather than competing. And here’s what she has to say about her concept for the chair:

“Time doesn’t stop anywhere, but sometimes it seems like it can here (please, take a seat in this chair and see for yourself!). Locals say this is the center of the universe. Why are we all so drawn to this place, and why do true locals fight so hard to protect it? Turns out, we all may have more in common than we think.”

—Jasmine Horn, artist

“Here” is Westport, but I hope “here” also comes to mean Snowfort. A place to stay awhile in the moment. “Widening the present,” as Edward Cornell says. Slow with the flow!

Four children in an oversized Westport Chair depicting the Essex County Fairgrounds
The County Fair Chair by Nancy Dougal. Photo by Adam Robinson.