John W. Thomas was the founder of Thomasville, N. C., lived at “Fair Grove,” when the North Carolina Railroad was surveyed. He was in the State Senate when the charter was granted, and gave it his strongest support. He came here and bought about four hundred acres of land from Johnahan [sic] Winston, with a view of establishing a town. About 1854 Thomas took the contract for building six miles of the North Carolina Railroad, beginning here and going toward Lexington, while Valentine Hoover and others went toward High Point. When the railroad was completed Thomasville put on her gala attire and prepared a big “barbecue” to welcome the first passenger train and its operatives coming from the south.

Thomasville is commonly referred to as the "Chair Town" or "Chair City", in reference to a 30 foot landmark replica of a Duncan Phyfe armchair that rests in the middle of the city. The original "Big Chair" was constructed in 1922 by the Thomasville Chair Company (now Thomasville Furniture Industries) out of lumber and Swiss steer hide to reflect the city's prominent furniture industry. However, this chair was scrapped in 1936 after 15 years of exposure to the weather. In 1951, a larger concrete version of the chair was erected with the collaboration of local businesses and civic organizations and still remains today. The Big Chair gained national attention in 1960 when then Presidential Candidate Lyndon B. Johnson greeted supporters on the monument during a campaign whistle stop.[3] Although larger ones have been built, many Thomasville residents still boast that the Big Chair between the two Main Streets is the World's Largest Chair.

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