About Us

CHSstaffBackdrops by Charles H Stewart has been your leading edge scenic design and backdrop rental company for over 125 years!
Come to us with your theatrical needs to enhance your production with well over 1,500 backdrops, drapes, lames and scrims to choose from. We are here to serve all your backdrop and scenic design needs using our years of experience and expertise.
Please call or email us with any questions you may have regarding drop availability or styles not shown. You may also browse our extensive online catalogue to sample hundreds of our backdrops available for rental.
We offer you reliable service at competitive prices. Our professional backdrops are lightweight, easy to hang and can be shipped direct to your door!

Our extensive collection of original Backdrops are the perfect addition for school productions, social and corporate events, dance recitals and can be rented or purchased for:

  • Weddings
  • Bar and Bat Mitzvahs
  • Trade Shows
  • Video and Photographic Productions
  • Pageants and Talent Competitions
  • Television Shows
  • Non-Profit Events
  • Theaters
  • Dance Recitals
  • Schools
  • Colleges and Universities
  • Religious Institutions
  • Parties and Event
  • Hospitality Interiors

For your “Show of Shows”, depend on us for high quality backdrops.

The Life of Charles H. Stewart

Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart, based in North Andover, Massachusetts, was opened in 1893 and operated continuously as a family-run business, first under Charles Stewart and then his son, Stanley. In 1990, the Christo family bought the business after a five-year apprenticeship under Stanley’s tutelage and has run it ever since.

In a 1983 Boston Globe article, Stanley summed up the backdrop business when he said, “In our warehouse you see 900 boxes filled with backdrops; what I see is life in those boxes—live performance, artistic expression, and background support for some of the greatest shows you’ll ever see.” The Christo family shares Stanley’s belief about those boxes and the company continues to epitomize the ‘Life in Backdrops’ tagline that Charles H. Stewart (CHS) uses to describe its business.

So what is the life of a backdrop? To go from the shoplights to the spotlights, a CHS backdrop grows from creativity, matures through teamwork, and ventures into the world through a dedication to customer service.


In 1893, Charles H Stewart was a young man in need of a challenging and lucrative vocation. His artistic skills and experience as a backdrop artist working in frame shops gave him the experience to manage O.L.Storey Scenes Company, which eventually he purchased. For those of you not familiar with frame shops, they were in large open areas with large wooden paint frames ( up to 25 feet high and 70 feet wide) which had cloth/muslin drops stapled tightly onto them. The artists stood on a raised platform which extended the length of the frame. By raising the frame up and down, the artist could reach and paint all areas of the drop for a completed painted backdrop. There were multiple frames ( five or more ) , and the shops could put out an impressive quantity of painted backdrops in a short period of time. Competition amongst artists for speed as well as greater production for greater pay was the way it was “in the day”. The drop would be stretched and starched for shape and color retention. The color was really toxic dyes that had to be mixed with tint and water to achieve the color desired.

In 1948, Earl Stanley Stewart returned from England with his British war bride. Although he had worked for his father in the 1920’s while in high school, he was an engineer by trade. However, the lure of the theatre was too strong. “Stanley” decided to work with his father despite his engineering background. Custom backdrops sold to clients was still the dominant focus of the business, but the rental market was beginning to explode — rent backdrops, lighting, special effects, risers, temp staging etc all became marketing opportunities. Also, installing curtains , curtain tracking, and stage hardware sales were other opportunities.


In the January 2014 issue of Stage Directions, we addressed Backdrops by Charles H Stewart from the viewpoint of a timeline from its beginnings in 1893 to the present corporate structure operated by the Christo family. In that review, we touched upon the founder (Charles H Stewart) and his son (Earl “Stanley” Stewart) as well as the present company owners (the Christo family).