There are two different story-lines that combine to form the Renaissance Sled Company: that of the company itself, and that of the creator of the Flexible Flyer sleds.
The History of Renaissance Sleds
Evelyn Voorhees has the following to say about her history and what inspired her to create Renaissance Sleds:
“I am a great granddaughter of the co-owner and eventual president of the S.L. Allen company, William H Roberts of Moorestown N.J. I have been fascinated by the sleds all my life.The thrill of finding sleds today never ends for me. The company reputably sold up to 10,000 sleds a day in it’s prime so I know they are everywhere. With a proclivity towards collecting I found myself with more sleds than storage room. I have always thought not only did they provide endless fun on a good fast hill but they were beautiful in and of themselves. It was only a matter of time before I realized how I could preserve and honor these sleds at the same time. Every house I grew up in had a sled coffee table. A few ended up on the wall and one hanging upside down holding our pots and pans. There is a family photograph of 4 out of the 5 Roberts children on a 6 man sled. This sled currently hangs from my ceiling, one of the few spaces I had left to display my collection!
The Paris Manufacturing company, also founded in the late 1800’s was known for it’s sleds with beautifully painted motifs. It got me to thinking that part of my upcycling project could combine the natural beauty of the Flexible Flyer sleds and the superb artistic talent of my dear friend Alan James Robinson. In addition there are some sleds that are in such good condition that the original craftsmanship and artwork are worth preserving in and of itself. The sleds speak to me as I carefully choose their outcome.”
The Flexible Flyer Story
The S.L. Allen company was founded in 1881 by William Roberts brother in law, Samuel Leeds Allen. “Uncle Sammy” as we referred to him even several generations later was both a business man and inventor. He created his company as a launch for the manufacturing offarm implements, The Planet Jr. line, and for the Flexible Flyer sleds. During the summer months he would be manufacturing sleds, during the winter months, the farm implements. The factory was located on 5th and Glenwood Ave in North Philadelphia right next to the main line of the railroad and until recently, if the train was going slow enough, you could still see the logos of the Flexible Flyer Sleds and Planet Jr on the side of the factory. The first patent for the Flexible Flyer sled was 1889. Great granddaddy Roberts worked sided by side with his brother in law until Allen’s retirement at which time he took over the presidency of the S.L.Allen Co.