A Short History

By 1874 M.J. had changed the name to M.J. Murphy & Co. and had switched from bed springs to manufacturing wooden chairs as the only product line. In 1890, having moved the company to 15 acres on Harper Avenue and Grand Trunk, the current name of Murphy Chair Company was incorporated. By 1915, the company had grown to over 1000 employees.

At the same time, the booming automobile business took over the Detroit labor market making it difficult for Murphy Chair Company to maintain its competitive position with companies that were moving South. In 1916, the decision was made to move the company to Owensboro, KY to be eventually managed by M.J.’s oldest son Gleeson, Sr., until his untimely death in 1931. Following his death, M.J. chose Gleeson Sr.’s 20-year-old son Gleeson, Jr. to take over operations.

Gleeson Murphy, Jr. served as General Manager of Murphy Chair Company in Owensboro, Kentucky from 1931-1951, having taken over operations following the death of his father in1931. During his time a GM, the company continued to prosper delivering hundreds of thousands of handcrafted chairs to its customers.

The original Murphy Chair Company continued to prosper in Owensboro until labor unrest and cheaper manufacturing costs forced its closure in 1954.

Intent on not losing the rich history and reputation for quality manufacturing, the company and brand was revived by 5th generation Murphy family member Stephen Michael Johnson, M.J. Murphy’s Great-Great Grandson and the Grandson of Gleeson Murphy, Jr.

The progress of Murphy Chair remains attributable to these principles:
1–A “One Price” Policy.
2–Quality Chairs at Reasonable Cost.
3–Constant Integrity and Fair Dealing