Ernest Theophilus Burk (1875-1960), son of Tennessee natives Dr. James Monroe and Hester Ann Bennett, was born in Pocahontas, Arkansas. In 1910. Married with children, he followed the frontier to Oklahoma and the opportunities it presented. He wrote that he had "arrived in Oklahoma with four children and $10 in his pocket." He eventually parlayed that ten dollars into a successful dry goods store. He and the family moved to Amarillo, TX, in the 1920's where he took a job in a "style shop".
A year later he owned it.
It wasn't long afterwards he opened the successful Amarillo Furniture Mart. The business plan was simple. He brought the best furniture he could find to Amarillo by attending furniture shows in cities around the country. The people responded and the legend was born. His store was non-exclusionary regardless of race, religion or social standing. He was the first in the city to welcome the African-American community through the front door where, like all his customers, he treated as friends and, unheard of at the time, even offered credit. Through the depression many of his customers accounts remained unpaid but he never repossessed a piece of furniture. When the cloud over the country lifted all of his accounts were paid in full by a grateful community.
Family came first to E.T. and he took his success and helped family members open
furniture stores in Oklahoma and Texas. After many successful years as a leader
and pillar in the business community he ran for congress as an advocate for the
elderly in the early 1950s. He lost but his voice was heard.
E.T. died in 1960, in a hospital in Amarillo while, down
the hall, his great granddaughter Laurie Clark was being
His life continues through the family and his impression
on the ones he helped was indelible and will never be forgotten.
"Modernism means freedom—freedom to mix, to choose, to change, to embrace the new
but to hold fast to what is good."
-Edward Wormley (1907 –1995)
At E.T. Burk we strive to do the same.
sq. ft. gallery focuses on the best vintage and contemporary design from mid-twentieth
century to today. The designers all have something in common. They knew/know
a simple truth: Furniture is useless if people don't want to live with it.
We wouldn’t either.
We proudly feature the work of the purveyors and innovators of the modern Furniture movement. Edward Wormley, T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, Tommi Parzinger, George Nakashima, Finn Juhl, Hugh Acton, Milo Baughman, Paul Frankl and others. Their work is both stubbornly traditional and visionary at the same time. It is humbled by the work of the past and confident enough to take it forward. Their creations have a traditional soul with salt on them.
E.T. Burk offers a nod to
those visionaries and presents them to Nashville . What
we don't present is retro, fifties or kitschy. That's
some other stores job. We are furniture for those of discerning
taste in all budgets.
At E.T. Burk we do modern with manners. We are grateful for the opportunity to work around it everyday.
We hope you will find the same living with it.