Industry Remembers Alvin Cain
June 23, 2012 - 11:21am
The Chelsea House founder died May 30, 2012, at the age of 82.
Alvin Cain, founder of Chelsea House
Alvin Cain, founder of Chelsea House

Alvin Cain, who founded Chelsea House and ran the company for over 30 years, died on May 30, 2012. He was 82.

Pam Cain (no relation), President of Cain Creative Group, worked with Alvin for a number of years, says he started Chelsea House because he saw a need in the industry.

“His family was in lumber, and from that, he started building upscale houses. He was always interested in history and reproduction, but he couldn't find nice hardware to include, so he started a company in his basement,” Pam Cain says. “From that, he bought a small art line called Chelsea House, and now it includes lighting, artwork, decorative accessories and a little bit of everything.”

Alvin’s job soon became his passion, Pam Cain says, and he would spend his off hours looking over magazines or going to antique shops.

“He had a true passion for the business,” Pam Cain says. “It wasn’t about making money for him. He was passionate about the decorative arts and the history and reproduction, and bringing beauty into people’s homes.”

And it was his passion that led him to create such quality product for Chelsea House, she says.

“He was very meticulous about authentic reproduction, and that’s why Chelsea House had such quality, because he refused to cut corners. Everything was done precisely right,” she says.

But Pam Cain says what she’ll remember most is Alvin’s charm.

“He was extremely charming, literally the epitome of the Southern gentleman,” Pam Cain says. “He was very warm and welcoming, and it was always very important to him, especially in the showrooms, that everyone who walked through the doors was treated as a guest.”

Alvin is survived by his loving wife of 57 years, Ann Spencer Cain; daughter Ginny Cain Ratchford and husband Bill of High Point, NC; son William Spencer Cain and wife Monica of Mt. Holly, NC; five grandchildren William Daniel Ratchford, Laura Ratchford Hanf (Jason), Elizabeth Cain Williams (Coleman), Mary Spencer Cain and Samuel Augustus Cain II, and great granddaughter Madison Grace Hanf.

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