Around Town: The Bernice Bienenstock Furniture Library - High Point

Coming up this weekend, Spring Market week will come to North Carolina, a furniture  industry design event bringing together buyers, designers, and media specialists (much like New York's Fashion Week!) to the town of High Point. And although many of the 75,000 attendees will be focused on touring the showrooms of the 180 buildings known as High Point Market, many will add a trip over to the Bernice Bienenstock Furniture Library to their plans, not only to see the library, including original, iconic pieces of furniture, but also to take in a little research time on period styles for their own projects. The library holds America’s largest collection of extremely rare books on furniture, and furniture history, along with thousands more interior design books, shelter periodicals, and antique auction catalogs, going all the way back to the last century! Although I too will be popping into the library during market week, I did bring my mom to also take in this bit of American history when she came up from Florida to visit.

The Bienenstock Furniture Library is our country’s only library dedicated to the preservation of history on the furniture industry, including furniture design, and it contains the country’s largest collection of extremely rare books on furniture plus  furniture design history. The library is free and open to the public, Monday - Friday, located at 1009 N. Main Street in the heart of High Point, just two buildings over from the Junior League of High Point, and across the street from a new fave shopping spotting for collectables here in North Carolina - Vintage Thrift and Antique Shop. My mom and I had stopped by on Saturday first, but I didn't realize the library was closed. When we went back during the week, we were graciously taken a tour and given more information about the library's history from its director, Karla Webb. Here are a few pics I took from touring Bienenstock Furniture Library...


While we stood in one of the front reference rooms, which included the library's fireplace and portrait of its founders, Sandy and Bernice Bienenstock, Karla explained that they  began collecting books about furniture and furniture design back in 1922, when this house, the Garyson House, was their family home. In 1970, The Bienenstock Furniture Library was dedicated by Sanfords, and Mr. Sanford was at that time President of Duke University.

For the library's opening in 1970, everyone in North Carolina's furniture industry turned out for it. The library has undergone a few changes to preserve its historical integrity, but one thing that has remained constant, besides the beautiful centrally located staircase is its historic exterior constructed of basalt. Today, the library is listed on the National Register of Historic Homes.

The library contains over 8000 books on furniture and interior design + many periodicals, including over 100 years worth of issues of Antiques Magazine. It was cool to see one publication from my birthday. My mom and I were even able to see the library’s climate controlled rare book room, which contains volumes dating back to 1640 and it is the only library in America that houses the original works of 18th century furniture masters Chippendale, Sheraton and Hepplewhite - which you can flip through, as long as you're wearing the clean white gloves given to you. 

The historic library is run by a volunteer board of directors - some of which include volunteers: Leslie Hendrix Wood (of Hadley Court), Leslie Carothers (of The Kaleidoscope Partnership), Stephanie Lowder (of Rare Bird Creative), and Jason Oliver Nixon (co-founder of Madcap Cottage). It is currently chaired by the grandson of the founders: Mr. Russell Bienenstock, who is the Editor In Chief of Furniture World magazine.

Students, furniture designers, interior designers, scholars, design bloggers and lovers of furniture and design from all over the world come to the library to conduct research.

And thanks to the library’s generous endowment by the founders, the library has given out scholarships to the winners of its annual furniture design and interior design student competitions. Recently, The Bernice Bienenstock Furniture Library Board of Directors announced the winner of their annual Interior Design & Furniture Design student scholarship competition whose first place winner, Erica Brooks of Virginia Tech who will receive a $5,000 scholarship to continue her studies in interior design - And Eny Lee Parker of SCAD won first place the Furniture Design competition will also receive a $5,000 scholarship to continue her studies in furniture design.


You can read more about Erica’s winning design in an article here at Furniture World - plus in my post I wrote for Hadley Court called High Point Happenings.

Just this past fall, Hadley Court design blog shared with you the opening of the Hadley Court Center For Design Collaboration Center at the Bienenstock Furniture Library (you can read about the Dedication here). The Center was designed for meetings, presentations, webinars and seminars  —   and the room contains the latest in AV equipment that library director Karla has been trained to use – to help make your visions come to life in a professional environment. For example, you can Livestream a design  presentation or record a video presentation to share on your social channels and website. If you’d like to reserve it for use, you can email Karla at


So yes - even with all the newness market will bring this coming Spring season, part of what makes market possible is taking in the nearby historical sites, such as the Bienenstock Furniture library. My mom and I enjoyed our time there, and I hope you will too!

By the way: Although this is a 'library', books may not be checked out - however, you can actually buy some of the books in the on-site book shop down stairs, or bargain book shop out past the garden in the carriage house. Not only are these books wonderful to add to your design library to reference, but they are great also to layer into a vignette to tell a story - of your own home or a client project. Funds collected from book purchases help the restoration of the historical books, drawings, documents and the library itself.

To help bring more awareness to this historical establishment during market week, the library will be hosting a BBQ boxed dinner - with Sweet Tea, tonite, Tuesday, April 14 from 5-7pm for market exhibitors setting up and you will get the chance to meet the High Point Junior League Showhouse designers. (Follow the hashtag throughout social media channels at: #JLHPShowhouse)

The 2015 Designer Showhouse takes its inspiration from the furniture-rich history of High Point. The designers have worked very hard to create a modern, livable space in a historic home, that had good bones but needed a little TLC. Many of the designers working on the showhouse referenced the Bienenstock Furniture Library to research their room designs. Visit the Junior League of High Point Showhouse site at to learn more about the design house and learn about the designers and the cause this will be supporting. To learn more about the library visit their site at

Junior League High Point - Designer Showhouse
200 West Farriss Ave
High Point, North Carolina
(336) 889-5479 

Bienenstock Furniture Library
1009 North Main, in the center of High Point (at the corner of N. Main & Design Place)
 Library Director Karla Webb
Follow the library's current activities and events via their facebook page at:

Thanks for stopping by - Hope to see you at the library and #HPMKT!

1 comment:

  1. This was so interesting, so thanks for the post. I never had the chance (yet) to visit this library, but I am putting it on the list.



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