Occasionally you will find pieces of furniture in Tom’s stores with a copper colored tag that designates these pieces as Hut Furniture. But what is Hut furniture and why is it so collectible?
Back in the 1920’s, railroad heiress Isabella Greenway and her second husband came to Arizona. Soon after, her husband, John Campbell Greenway died suddenly and unexpectedly, leaving Isabella a widow for the second time. Concerned about the plight of disabled WWI veterans, she followed the lead of her long-time friend, Eleanor Roosevelt, and in 1927 she opened up a furniture manufacturing studio in Tucson, which she named “The Arizona Hut” or “The Hut” for short. She chose the name “Hut” because it was the name that WWI Doughboys gave to places where they could enjoy rest and relaxation away from the trenches. She appealed to John White, the Mayor of Tucson, to help her find a rent-free location to set up her new industry, and with his help Isabella was able to secure an abandoned church in Tucson for her workshop. In 1928 she moved the facility to a building on Congress Street downtown where she set up a factory and gift shop.
Through tireless promotion, Isabella Greenway was able to convince buyers to carry her Hut furniture in major high end department stores such as Marshall Field’s in Chicago, Wanamaker’s in Philadelphia, and Bonwit-Teller, Saks Fifth Avenue and Abercrombie and Fitch in New York. But not long after, the Great Depression hit, and furniture sales slumped dramatically. Determined to keep her disabled veterans working, Isabella decided to build a resort hotel in rural Tucson and furnish every room with Hut furniture. She chose a site North of the University at Elm Street near Campbell and named it The Arizona Inn. She also purchased vacant lots elsewhere in Tucson solely for the purpose of building rental houses and furnishing them with Hut furniture. This worked to her advantage, as demand for Hut furniture increased.
Later, in 1932, with the Inn bringing in successful business, Isabella Greenway entered politics and became Arizona’s first congresswoman. She held the position for one term and retired from politics in 1934. Isabella Greenway died in 1953, ending a long life of humanitarian service. The arterial street in Phoenix, Greenway Parkway, is named after her.
Today Arizona Hut furniture is popular with people who are interested in Tucson’s rich history. Its simplicity of design and solid construction make it a fine fit with almost any decor. Most of what is available in Tucson has come from the Arizona Inn as they have sold off various pieces, and over the years Tom’s Furniture has been able to acquire much of what the Arizona Inn has sold.
Folks interested in purchasing Hut furniture check with Tom’s first because of our reputation for carrying Arizona Hut furniture whenever possible. And as the copper-colored tags attest, the Hut furniture we offer has been purchased directly from the Arizona Inn, so these pieces have never been in public circulation.
Come to Tom’s Furniture to see and purchase these rare and collectible pieces for yourself!
(photos courtesy of the Arizona Inn)