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Robert E Pence

Sounds like good timing that Berne has given approval for a tavern to sell hard liquor by the drink. It'll give the out-of-work furniture makers something to do with their time.

Not really.

I grew up about ten miles from Berne, and I always regarded the town as one of the solid old-fashioned places where the work ethic and personal and business integrity ruled the day. Lately sometimes I wonder what's going on.

Ed. note: Berne used to be the home of one of the most innovative furniture makers in American - Dunbar. The JG this morning said that Dunbar was an office furniture maker but it was also a maker of modern decorative residential furniture.

The Dunbar modern furniture is extraordinarily collectible today. Joel Fremion is very knowledgeable regarding Dunbar and has remarked on the high demand for Dunbar among New York collectors.

More on Dunbar furniture: http://www.collectdunbar.com/discover_edward.html

Robert E Pence

Commenting on my comment - Maybe I got that wrong about the liquor licenses. In this morning's paper I read that a limited number of restaurants will be allowed to be licensed.

In the fifties Dunbar had a terrible fire. The Berne fire department needed assistance from fire departments from a number of surrounding communities. The fire probably still is among Berne's top-ranked historic disaster stories, right below the Palm Sunday Tornadoes that wrought havoc within a stone's throw of the town.

The article this morning mentioned that Smith Brothers is the only survivor of the three furniture makers that once operated in Berne. I have a memory associated with Smith Brothers, too.

Again in the fifties, Berne was home to Zuercher Music Store. Their main, or perhaps only business was accordions; they sold them, repaired them, and even may have custom-built some. Walter Zuercher knew of every family with kids within 20 miles. He had several advanced students who worked for him as teachers, and he was energetic and not a little zany in his marketing efforts. He was of small stature, bald, hyper-animated and unrestrained when it came to entertaining folks. I remember him as almost PeeWee Herman-like in his antics.

I have a vivid mental movie of him on foot, following Dad across the barnyard as Dad drove a tractor. Walter had his accordion and was playing schmaltzy polka music as he went. All three of us boys ended up with accordions and lessons.

To get back to Smith Brothers, Walter conducted two accordion bands, a junior band and a senior band, and we played concerts in places like nursing homes and the VA hospital in Fort Wayne. In summer we rehearsed in the pavilion in the park, and in winter we practiced in a space at the Smith Brothers factory, surrounded by rolls and bundles of upholstery fabric. Walter also sold protective covers for accordion cases, stitched by Smith Brothers from a sturdy, deep-pile uphostery material in the color of your choice.

I haven't played my accordion in a long, long time and don't even remember what became of it. I probably sold it long ago.

Ed. note: Mr. Zuercher's obituary from the April 9, 2001 Bluffton News-Banner:

Christian Walter Zuercher, 79
Christian Walter Zuercher, 79, of Berne, died at 1 p.m. Saturday at
Chalet Village in Berne following a four-month illness.
He was a retired sales representative for Decatur Industries.
Previously he owned a part-time trophy and awards business and
worked with his family in the music business.
Born Oct. 16, 1921 in Zurich, Switzerland, to Chris (Chrigel) and
Ida Bachofen Zuercher, he came with his parents at the age of 7
through Ellis Island to settle in Berne, where his father became
engaged in the manufacture of accordions.
Mr. Zuercher performed professionally and taught accordion
playing and for a period of time directed a large accordion band.
He was married on April 8, 1944 to Lucille Sprunger, who survives.
He was a member of the First Mennonite Church at Berne. He also
was a charter member in 1948 of the Berne Jaycees and a former
member of the Berne Lions Club. In addition to his wife, he is
survived by five children, Mrs. Don (Margaret Ann) Harsha, Paul
David Zuercher and Mrs. Jeff (Elaine) Boze, all of Berne, Mrs.
Charles (Linda) Abernathy of Concord, N.C., and Leon Zuercher of
Indianapolis; a brother, Sylvan of Albuquerque, N.M.; a sister, Mrs.
Delbert (Irene) Sprunger of Decatur; 11 grandchildren; and one
great-grandchild. A brother died in childhood.
Services will be held Friday at 10:30 a.m. at the First Mennonite
Church Chapel in Berne with Rev. Harold Nussbaum officiating.
Burial will be in the MRE Cemetery at Berne.
Calling hours at Yager-Kirchhofer Funeral Home in Berne will be
Thursday from 2 to 9 p.m. and at the church Friday for one hour
prior to services.
Memorials to Agape Respite Care Center in Berne or to Gideons

eric fetcho

I just saw a rainbow furniture commercial, advertising their Berne selection! Hurry up and buy whats left!!

Lois Mlynarchek

I'm so sorry to hear that Berne furniture is shut down. I have a Berne sofa that we truly love. We were hopeing to get a new one or better yet order the same fabric or like fabric and have it recovered. I shopped in Kalamazoo last summer for a new Berne sofa and the clerk never mentioned that the factory was closed. Hopefully times will get better and they will reopen.
Lois Mlynarchek,


We purchased 5 pieces of BERNE furniture in 1994. Fifteen years and eight Grandchildren later, we still love the furniture. It looks & sits great and my how they love to sleep on the sofa and loveseat. $4,000 seemed alot in 1994 but I wanted it to be comfortable, welcoming and durable. We have not been dissapointed at all. Thank you. p.s. I was hoping to order some direct from the factory as a gift for my son. I have recommended Berne to everyone over the years and now I have no idea where to buy good furniture.

Keri L Denny

My Mom has purchased several pieces of BERNE furniture over a span of 35 yrs. WOW!!! Was She surprised to find out that you have gone out of business. Wondering what you recommend as a second choice?

Marianne Jarman

We really like our couch and love seat from Berne. My husband likes it too much though, and he slept on it so much with his slippers on the one arm, that the material wore.
I just tried to call the factory to see if I could order some of the same material, and also new arm chair covers to possibly extend where he frayed the material. I tried to get in touch with Berne Furniture and got a funny busy signal. Something told me this was not a good sign. My son's graduation party is at the end of June and now I don't know what I'm going to do! Any suggestions? I don't know how I'll find the name of the fabric manufacturer! Please help if you can!

Marianne Jarman

I tried to get in touch with Berne furniture and got a funny busy signal. Something told me this was not a good sign. I need some fabric to make new arm chair covers and to replace an area of my not-so-old couch. I don't know what I'm going to do now! I don't know how I'll figure out the fabric manufacturer!
If anyone can help, please do!

Gary Bellessa

This is bad. I bought my Berne Furniture couch in 1980 and I still sleep on it most nights. It is without a doubt the best piece of furniture in the house. I guess this is the reason they have gone out of business. Their furniture is so good that it never wears out. Have you ever heard of a couch getting used almost every single day for 30 years and still be in good shape? I do not know what I will do when it finally wears out.

Sandy Krueger

We purchased our Berne sofa in july of 07. Assuming we still had the option to have our cushions replaced (as part of the warranty) I called our local furniture Distributor who sold us the sofa and to my shock was told Berne closed their doors almost 4 years ago.... WHere was a letter informing us that we had no warranty any longer? That any extras we paid for were now null and void? That their lifetime gurantee had DIED??? Shameful. Downright disgusting.

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