Chair Factory

In 1916 the executives of the Wisconsin Chair Company (WCC), a furniture manufacturer in Port Washington, Wisconsin, decided to enter the record business as a supporting sideline to their production of phonograph cabinets.

Their most famous label was to be that of Paramount Records. This was originally a trademark of the United Phonographs Corporation. The company's first recording business, located in Sheboygan, was soon to be followed by the incorporation of the New York Recording Laboratories (NYRL). The first record was processed in Grafton on June 29, 1917, only three days before the official incorporation of the NYRL.

During the following 12 year period, the NYRL used studio facilities in New York, Chicago, and Richmond, Indiana. Not only did they record local talent, but they also recorded blues icons such as Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Blake, Papa Charlie Jackson, Ida Cox, and Ma Rainey.

By late 1929, the NYRL had opened their first studio in Grafton, which conveniently linked directly to their pressing plant. This studio operated for two and a half years, producing more than 1,630 recordings. These recording included many bands from Wisconsin, such as Bill Carlsen, Jack Teter, Art Krueger, Sig Heller, and Roman Gosz. There were also recording session by Charlie Patton, Son House, Tommy Johnson, and King Solomon Hill.

Although there was a steady pattern of producing sessions for anyone wanting to record, the company slowly sunk in decline. The studio stopped its activities in mid-1932, although records were shipped from stock until late 1933. Paramount was one of the few companies that did not go bankrupt during the depression - it simply went out of business.

The parent company, WCC, lasted another 20 years, eventually selling the NYRL remains and rights to John Steiner, who reactivated the label briefly in 1948.