It’s hard not to notice the “Star of
Texas Rocker” and that’s exactly what its creator, Larry Dennis, had
Jerry Dennis and
the Star of Texas Rocker.
Copyright© Laura Kestner
The cedar rocking chair, standing more
than 25 feet tall and weighing more than 5,600 pounds, graces the
parking lot of Texas Hill Country Furniture and Mercantile at 19280
Hwy. 281 S. in Lipan, Texas.
The store, owned by Dennis and his
wife, Sherry, features numerous examples of more traditional
furniture. There’s also a vast selection of everything from wooden
staircases and mantles to windows and doors -- all constructed at
the on-site sawmill. But, as the names implies, the “star” of the
show is the mammoth rocking chair.
“I built that in 2003,” Dennis said. “I
just wanted to see if I could build a big one. I wanted to catch
people’s attention.” And that he has.
U-turns are not unusual on this
particular stretch of 281, as motorists head back to make sure they
aren’t imagining things. Others arrive at the store having already
seen the rocker in various publications or on television.
“We had some people here from
Pennsylvania,” Dennis said, “and they told me that our rocking chair
is even in biker magazines up there. People are always coming in to
have their photos taken with it.”
According to Dennis, film crews from
MTV shot footage of of the chair that aired in 2005. “And Jay Leno
made fun of it on the Tonight Show,” he said.
A plaque posted to the rocker states
that officials from Guinness declared it the “world’s largest” in
September of 2003.
The rocker was built in just five and a
half days. “There were three of us working on in for three days,” he
said, “and five of us for one day, and six on the last day. We
started with the trees and took it all the way to the finished
product.” It took approximately 28 trees to make the Star of Texas
Originally from west Texas, Dennis
spent many years in Weatherford, Texas, doing woodwork of a more
conventional nature -- including work in several area church
“I’ve been working with wood since I
was 18,” he said. “That’s a long time.” The young-looking Dennis
won’t say exactly how long that’s been, but he revealed an analogy
that he shares with his grandchildren. “I like to tell them that
when God was planting the trees, I was helping water them,” he
Other businesses (operated by Dennis
family members and friends) share the property with the mercantile,
including a restaurant. Some of the material for the buildings was
recycled from area landmarks.
“We’ve used wood here from old
buildings like the Lambert Switch store, and the Harmony School,”
Dennis said. His love of history is evident as he launches into a
story about the building that currently houses the store’s clearance
items, explaining that it was originally an old dance wagon from the
1920s. “It was elephant drawn,” he said. “I hear that it was very
exciting when something like that would come to town.”
In addition to cedar furniture, the
mercantile also features home furnishings and accessories, as well
as hand-crafted leather items, gift items and Texas collectables.
Almost all are produced by area craftsmen and artisans.
“There’s a lot of talent in this part
of the country,” Dennis said. “This isn’t about big corporations,
it’s all mom and pop. It’s all about the little man.”
The little man and the big rocker -- a