Gardner, the Furniture Capital of New England

March 24, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Posted by Cindy A Stephens


Main streets and back roads of Gardner, Massachusetts


About 60 miles Northwest of Boston, you know that you have arrived in Gardner when the billboard on Route 2 proudly exclaims you are entering the furniture capital of New England.  I had packed my camera gear and set my course for this Worcester County city on a beautiful late winter day in March.


Upon entering downtown Gardner one of the first things I wondered was where all the furniture was?  As it happens, the furniture manufacturers, showrooms and outlets are generally sprinkled in hub-and-spoke fashion not far from Main Street.  These rather nondescript buildings on the outside offer a feast of well-crafted American-made furniture on the inside (a rarity these days in the "supermarket" furniture stores that offer entire bedroom sets for just $999.)


Gardner, MA Copyright 2013 Cindy A Stephens


In Bill Bryson fashion I parked my car and then set off on foot to meander along Main Street.  I had spotted a diner on the way into town and headed back towards it.  The Blue Moon Diner was a beehive of activity on this Sunday morning.  It was one of those wonderfully quaint Worcester Lunch Car style diners from the first half of the 20th century.


The friendly locals smiled upon entering and exiting the diner upon seeing me, camera in hand, shooting at the town reflected in its front door.  And two friendly down-on-their-luck gentlemen, that had previously been resting cat-like on sunny storefront steps, smiled and asked if I wanted to take their photo as they sauntered past.


Gardner, MA Copyright 2013 Cindy A Stephens


I took my leave of the diner, without sampling the fare, and journeyed onward along Main Street.  The small storefronts housed apparatus for the hobbyist and bric-a-brac for the collector. 


Generally as I wander I look for interesting window displays and scenes being reflected in their glass. First and foremost I want something photographically interesting and new for my body of work, which also needs to convey interesting memorabilia or showcase the town.


My stroll in Gardner was a leisurely one designed to let me focus on these multiple planes of perspective.  Gardner did not disappoint.  The relatively quiet streets were easily shown off as prized wares in stores befitting this 20,000 person, 90-year old city.  


Gardner, MA

Copyright 2013 Cindy A Stephens


After a couple of hours I made my way back to my car to warm my cold hands and reflect.  It was early afternoon on this beautiful day and I was enjoying myself.  I pointed my car north upon back roads toward New Hampshire, not yet ready to let this walkabout end. 


I ended up in Keene, self-described on the town website as “rural and folksy in some ways, but it's worldly as well.”  An oxymoron, surely?  I aimed to find out. 


Find out in my next story from the main streets of Keene. - Cindy


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I am a marketing professional and a fine art photographer.  With more than 20 years of experience as a marketer and image maker during the digital technology revolution, I now educate creative professionals how to create their artistic presence in the changing art world.  


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