Charles F. Tomlinson (1871-1943) and Sidney H. Tomlinson (1876-1949) grew up at Springfield Friends, and were major players in the furniture industry. Charles, the older brother, graduated from Guilford College in 1893. He was deeply interested in the YMCA, which was a new organization at the time, and helped to raise the money for a new gym for Guilford.
After graduation, he moved to Winston-Salem and served as a school principal. He and his close friend, David Blair, started the first golf course in this part of North Carolina. He went back to UNC and studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1897, but then returned to Winston-Salem to serve as Superintendent of Schools. An innovator and visionary in education, he introduced vocational training, typing, bookkeeping and shorthand, high school classes for African-American students, and a parent-teacher association.
IN 1904, he resigned as school superintendent to join his brother Sidney as secretary and treasurer of the Tomlinson Chair Manufacturing Company in High Point. The business grew rapidly from employing 25 people in 1900 to over 700 by the 1940’s. He worked hard to retain employees and give them a sense of security and stability, and he took great interest in their needs and affairs.
He organized the National Council of Furniture Manufacturers and served as its president, and helped to create the Furniture Market. He also served as President of the High Point, Thomasville and Denton Railroad, Chairman of the North Carolina Advisory Board of the Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, President of the High Point Manufacturers Association, and Chairman of the High Point School Board, where he was largely responsible for the building and design of High Point Central High School. He was a trustee of Guilford College for 37 years. His gracious home on West Parkway is now owned by Tom and Gaither Terrell.
Sidney H. Tomlinson, the younger brother, went to Trinity College and Guilford College, where he graduated in 1898 with a degree in business administration and accounting. A dynamic salesman, he founded the Tomlinson Chair Manufacturing Company just two years later.
“Mr. S.H.”, as he was known to everyone, was president of the company for the next 49 years. Under his leadership, the company grew to one of the largest and best-known furniture manufacturers in the country.
He changed the way that furniture was sold, from traveling salesmen who carried trunks filled with tiny models, to large sales rooms where people could actually see and try out the furniture. He was deeply involved in building the new Southern Furniture Exposition building in High Point and the organization of the High Point Furniture Market.
He was a leader for many years in the High Point chapter of the YMCA, and was a founder of the High Point Rotary Club, the High Point Library and the Emerywood Country Club.
When Springfield built its new meetinghouse in 1927, Charles and Sidney donated the pulpit and all of the furniture on the platform in the worship room. When the parsonage was built in 1944, Sidney donated all of the furniture.
He was vice-president of the Springfield Memorial Association for many years, and helped to create the endowment which provides money for the upkeep of the cemetery.