thomas franklin wrenn
Thomas Wrenn (b.1860 d.1940) can correctly claim the title of trailblazer of the furniture industry in the South. He and John H. Tate formed the High Point Furniture Company in 1888 and built the first furniture plant in High Point. It was successful from the start, and paid its first cash dividend in 1889. Of course, it spawned many imitators. In 10 years, there were 12 competitors in High Point alone.
Mr. Wrenn ran his company with distinction for the next 50 years. Years later, Mr. Wrenn liked to recall that the High Point Furniture Company was in business when Coxey's army marched through High Point en route to Washington during the panic of 1890.
In less than 15 years, the managers saw an obvious need for furniture showrooms near their factories. Mr. Wrenn was instrumental in opening the first High Point Exposition Company in 1902, and the Furniture Manufacturers Exposition Company in 1903. The success of these efforts resulted in the erection of the 10-story Southern Furniture Exposition Building in 1921, in which Tom Wrenn also actively participated. That structure has grown into the magnificent International Home Furnishings Center, and the global furniture market which now surrounds it in and near High Point.
Tom Wrenn was the first of a group of giants. Without them, there would be no Furniture Hall of Fame today. From the concentration of manufacturing in North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee to the International Home Furnishings Market, his impact is there.