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Remember seeing that old cedar chest in Grandma’s house when you were growing up. Well aside from being a functional piece of antique furniture, chests have a rich history from earliest times as storage containers. Some of the earliest chests have their history with the amazing pharaoh’s of Ancient Egypt, where they were used to store golden treasures as well as the documents of the time. In modern times however, one of the largest and best known manufacturer of cedar chests was the Lane Furniture Company.
Edward Hudson Lane first founded the company in Altavista, Virginia in 1912. However, the Lanes were unsure of what success they would have selling chests, so they originally named their company The Standard Red Cedar Chest Company. Situated on a junction served by the Virginian and Southern Railways made it easy for the cedar chests, and later other furniture, produced by lane to be sold in many more cities and places outside of Virginia. It is interesting to note that although they had contracted with the federal government to produce pine ammunition boxes in their infancy, the height of their cedar chest days came during World War II.
In the 1920’s, Lane, whose tag line had been, “The gift that starts the home,” began advertising their cedar chests as “Hope Chests,” where young ladies could stockpile clothing and small furnishings in anticipation of a future marriage. Many of the advertisements at the time featured soldiers with their betrothed and other patriotic gestures. Later, Lane became known for and is still known for their quality furnishings and accent pieces. Mr. Lane passed away in 1973 and the last cedar chest to roll off their production line was manufactured in 2001.