1903: Founded by F. Stuart Foote.
1904: First dividend of 5% common stock declared.
1936: $80,000 showroom and dining hall built adjacent to factory.
1940s: Company builds airplane wings for the government.
1954: Company sold to Bergsma Brothers Co. after Foote dies.
F. Stuart Foote began at the Grand Rapids Chair Co., which his father, E.H. Foote, owned. There he learned about many aspects of the furniture business. In 1903, after ten years at the Grand Rapids Chair Co., he raised the money to found Imperial Furniture Co., with the help of Daniel McCoy, who was the president of Kent State Bank. McCoy was the first president of the company but Foote would soon take over and continue to be president for fifty years.
Imperial’s primary product were tables, with the addition of bookcases to its line later in its history. Foote laid claim to inventing the “coffee table” after he helped his wife prepare for a party by lowering the legs on a table. Imperial made dining room tables to go along with buffets made by the Grand Rapids Chair Co. Imperial was the first factory to bring out Duncan Phyfe reproductions. They worked mostly in mahogany but also had pieces of cherry. In the 1940s, they made wood airplane wings for the government. Imperial was the first company to concentrate large-scale efforts on occasional furniture.
MARKS AND LABELS
Through most of its history, Imperial’s trademark was a triangular shield with a crown on top. On the shield is written “Imperial, Grand Rapids, Michigan”. The crown and the lettering vary only slightly by date.