4 Surprising Facts You Didn’t Know About Mission Furniture

The American Arts and Crafts movement rose to prominence in the late 19th century, but remains as popular as ever today. Fans of the mission style of furniture know exactly what they’re looking for when shopping for wooden dinner tables and larger things like a bedroom furniture set when shopping at a Mission furniture store. Mission is a unique style that has a legion of loyal followers, but there are some surprising facts you might not know about the style.

1. What’s in a Name

Though named after the Spanish Missions that dotted the landscape of California in the early 19th century, actual Mission furniture bears no real resemblance to its namesake, instead finding its footing in New York alongside the rest of the American Arts and Crafts movement. The kind of furniture you’d find at a Mission furniture store is unlikely to look very much like the original furniture used by the Spanish colonists in California.

2. Victorian Backlash

The increased prominence of Mission furniture first came about as a reaction to the often overbearing and decadent furniture of the Victorian era. The kind of furniture you’d buy at a Mission furniture store is instead comprised of panels and basic woods with a handmade look and feel to them, despite most often being made in factories.

3. The Pan-American Exposition

Back before the internet, before television, and even before radio, the World’s Fair was one of the primary ways new ideas and technology were spread. At the beginning of the 20th century, in Buffalo, NY, a World’s Fair known as the Pan-American Exposition was held. At this fair, Mission furniture gained much prominence, increasing its popularity in the years to follow. Strangely enough, this fair was the very same one at which President William McKinley would be murdered.

4. Architecture vs. Furniture

Though the stuff you’d find at a Mission furniture store may not look like actual Spanish Missions, Mission Revival architecture is very much inspired by the original Missions. It seems potentially confusing that these two linked styles are named so similarly but one is faithful to the source while the other isn’t, but that’s just the way it ended up shaking out! Mission architecture is a style that’s still popular, but only in parts of the country, while you can likely find a Mission furniture store in every region in the mainland United States!

Do you have any other interesting thoughts or things to share regarding Mission furniture? Jump into the conversation in the comments section below!

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