Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 In Review: Albany Woodworks Team's Favorite Moments

It has been a great year for Albany Woodworks and we wanted to share! The Albany Woodworks team put together some of their favorite memories from 2015.

January-Installation of the Custom Designed Benches in Loyola's New Monroe Hall
When one of the original campus oak trees had to be cut down, Albany Woodworks teamed up with Holly & Smith Architects out of Hammond, LA decided to use the tree and design a bench that would keep the beauty of the oak intact while providing a gathering place for the students that once fondly gazed at its branches.

February- The Key West Project that inspired us all!
One of our favorite projects, this Key West home took indoors meets outdoors to a whole new level. The side wall completely opens up allowing natural light in, highlighting the beauty of our Prestige Collection used on the walls and ceilings.
March- Feaure in Fabulous Floors Magazine
Albany Woodworks was featured in the magazine Fabulous Floors, publication focused on consumers that was started in 2005. The article, with a Mythbusters theme, covers the normal hesitations customers may have about purchasing solid wood flooring. Another article about Albany Woodworks and its green sister company, Waste to Energy Systems will be coming out in 2016.

April- Albany Woodworks Becomes a Houzz Pro 
In order to offer customers easier access, Albany Woodworks launched their first Houzz profile! The profile offers tons of pictures and ideas of how to make our products transform into your creation!

May- Albany Woodworks Facebook Page Reaches 1,300 Likes!
We reached another milestone on Facebook with 1,300 Facebook Fans! Our social media plays a huge roll in allowing our customers and fans to be up to date with our latest stories, facts, ideas and products... with some even more exciting posts coming in 2016 with our 40th anniversary. So stay tuned!!!
June- Albany Woodworks added as a featured supplier in N.C. Design Studio 
With the goal of housing sustainable building materials, Locust Trading Company was the perfect match for Albany Woodworks' products, offering people on the east coast an opportunity to get hands on with our flooring. Our Barn Wood Oak Collection will be a main feature in the showroom! With all the aged beauty that only weather and time can give, and it's just what you wanted.
July- Albany Woodworks launches official Commercial Brochure 
After requests over the years for commercial use of Albany Woodworks products, we decided to officially launch a Commercial portion of our company. We are excited to offer reclaimed, engineered products which are perfect for Commercial applications!
August- Exposed beams steal the show!
A recent project (pictured right) in an office building showed how beautiful exposed beams and reclaimed wood ceiling can be. In August, we got the honor of producing additional beams for this customer's home! The project is still in the works but we are excited to see the grand finale in 2016.

September- The Albany Woodworks Showroom Makeover! 
With a range of new products to offer, our CEO decided it was high time to give our showroom a makeover. We added a variety of looks from rustic to classic, offering our customers plenty of opportunity to let their creativity manifest!

October- Albany Woodwork's CEO Featured in Baton Rouge Business Report

Our CEO was contacted to take part in the October issue of Baton Rouge Business Report which focused on Entrepreneurs in the area. The article highlighted Albany Woodworks and its sister company, Waste to Energy Systems. The full article can be found here

November- Albany Woodworks collaboration with Certo, LLC.

In November, Albany Woodworks began working with Greg McGavran, long time friend and national importation independent agent, marketer, brand developer for specialty hardwood flooring and fine architectural elements. He will be representing our products in Western markets through his company Certo, LLC and we are very excited to have this 20 year veteran of the flooring industry on board.

December- Ending the year with a Project with Louisiana History 
Albany Woodworks was selected as the top choice to supply the flooring for the Old State Capitol Building in Baton Rouge, LA. Our first project (pictured here) used our Prestige Collection to remodel the Senate Chambers in the Gothic Revival style building. The Old State Capitol Building was active from 1852-1932 and is an icon in Louisiana. We have once again been selected to supply our Prestige Collection for an additional floor in the House Chambers and the project should be complete in early 2016,

Friday, December 11, 2015

Getting the Perfect Floor for 2016

Blogger's Note: The end of 2015 is right around the corner! With 2016 in sight, it's time to start looking ahead at the "what's hot" in flooring for the upcoming year. Wood floors dominate the trends once again. We see some 2015 trends sticking around and some classics with a new spin. 

From Flooring Covering News: 

  • Hyper natural: This relates to wood styles that flaunt the natural imperfections and grain character of the raw material. Far from wanting engineered perfection, consumers will increasingly seek to surround themselves with products that bring them closer to nature, and that look and feel authentic. The desire for a natural, rustic appearance does not only apply to solid wood flooring; laminates, inkjet-printed porcelain and incredibly realistic LVT can also satisfy this desire.
  • Gray: This is not a fad fashion color, but a new classic color with customer appeal that will continue for many years. Wood and wood-look flooring in gray tones can be used to instantly provide the foundation for on-trend industrial or urban styles and a myriad of modern styles from Scandinavian to new minimalism. Of course, concrete also fits into the gray color family, and just as with the hyper-natural trend, it does not necessarily need to be the “real thing.” High-definition, inkjet-printed porcelain tiles give end users the desired concrete look with the performance and durability of porcelain tile.
  • Reclaimed: Products that have a story to tell, have been previously used and are repurposed or vintage resonate with consumers. In flooring this equates to a distressed appearance with signs of wear and aging. It is a timeworn aesthetic that hinges on a weathered look and also advocates the mixing of varied woods and/or wood tones across a floor.
  • Mixed-width formats: In line with the trend for reclaimed flooring styles comes an interest in incorporating a mix of plank widths across a floor. This move away from uniformity is an important trend for 2016.
Albany Woodwork's Prestige Collection is the perfect look for 2016!
  • Dark and blonde wood: Both dark and blonde wood tones are currently trending and will continue for several more years, so retailers should be sure to stock offerings at both ends of the shade spectrum. The deep, dramatic espresso tones of walnut give a glamorous heritage look, while blonde tones of oak, maple and ash appeal to customers looking to achieve modern styles.
  • Parquet: The classic herringbone and chevron layouts will be a favorite, but I predict puzzle-like geometrics will also begin to gain the interest of interior designers.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Hidden Gems: Alabama Tales That Grow On Trees Pt 2

Blogger's Note: We continue our adventure through Alabama's history and stories surrounding a few unusual trees. 

The Blakeley Oak (or the Jury Oak) was site of the Baldwin Courtroom
 where the local judge would hold court from a branch on the oak.
The Blakeley Oak

No buildings remain in what was once the booming riverfront town of Blakeley, the first seat of Baldwin County. Population diminished during the Civil War and, after what is thought to be the war’s last battle was fought at Blakeley, people slowly moved away until, by 1865, it was empty.

But a remaining tree and a nearby plaque amid the otherwise unspoiled landscape tell a piece of the frontier town’s history. The plaque marks the location of a tree known as the Blakeley, or Jury Oak, the tree where one of Alabama’s most famous judges, Harry Toulmin, would hold court in the 1820s. Before the courthouse was built, Toulmin was known to hold court while sitting in the fork of the huge oak.

According to Llewellyn Toulmin, a Harry Toulmin descendent, the judge presided over court proceedings for most of southern Alabama, an area of more than 15,000 square miles. “His ‘courtroom’ was usually a large tree. At Blakeley, in what is now north Baldwin County, he would sit 8 feet above the ground on the branch of a huge live oak, and literally hand down justice from on high,” Lew Toulmin wrote.

HI Tree

The “HI” and the Married Trees

Three quite friendly trees greet visitors to Hays Nature Preserve in Madison County. Along a hiking trail at the park, a limb grew between two trees – reportedly a natural formation – to form an “H.” A third tree stands beside them, forming an “I.” They are known locally as the “HI” trees.

On the banks of Cullman County’s Crooked Creek, where a Civil War battle was fought in 1863, grow two red maples joined by a limb that forms a bridge between them. They are known as the “Married Trees.”

But were they joined by nature or by human hands?

Fred Wise, who has owned the land for 32 years and runs Crooked Creek Civil War Museum on the property, said a friend who is a Native American said it’s possible the trees were grafted by Indians as many as 200 years ago.

“They may have used them to mark the site where they buried something or as a trail marker,” Wise said. However, the truth behind the trees’ union remains a mystery.

Married Trees

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Sound of Salvaging

Blogger's Note: As a Southern family and business, we have a passion for both reclaimed wood and music. Our CEO has been playing guitar even before he started Albany Woodworks and for the past eight years, he has played with a band called Southern Mystic. A recent article from CBS married these two passions together perfectly in a story about a company that is making guitars from old growth, reclaimed lumber of old homes being demolished in Detroit.

From the article "Made in Detroit: Guitars crafted from city ruins" by Chip Reid:

Detroit has more than 70,000 abandoned buildings. Among them is an old Cadillac plant that houses piles of wood. Where others see trash, Mark Wallace sees buried treasure.Wallace started making guitars out of Detroit's reclaimed wood a year and a half ago. He not only enjoys making the instruments but also playing them.

"It feels great, as an instrument. It's also great to know that it's something I built and something that came out of the city of Detroit," Wallace told me.

Decades ago the wood for the city's buildings   came from old growth forests where trees grew slowly. Wallace says the lumber has tight grain patterns and provides great resonance and sound.
Each guitar is meticulously hand-crafted and is as unique as a fingerprint. Wallace has made 24 so far and hopes eventually -- with a team of craftsmen -- to produce a couple hundred a year. They're priced at about $2,000 apiece.

Wallace says he gets an amazing feeling out of taking wood that's been tossed as garbage and turning it into something as beautiful as his guitars.

He says the guitars are a tribute to Detroit's rich music history from Motown to classic rock to rap. "I love this city, and I understand that there are a lot of places in the city that look like they're beat up, they look like they're run down, they look like they can never come back," said Wallace. "This guitar tells you that there's a different story."
With his work Wallace is transforming remnants of the city's past into a symbol of hope for the future.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Historical Hammond Hotel and Its Unexpected Role in the Birth of a Business

The classically built Citizen's National Bank Building in Hammond, LA.
The grand facade of the Citizen's National Bank Building (currently Regions Bank) in Hammond, LA plays a prominent role in downtown Hammond, Louisiana. But before the red brick, classically inspired building with white ionic columns was built, the site was home to another renowned structure in the heart of Hammond, The Oaks Hotel.

Rich in its history and dating back to 1893, the hotel was at one time the "place to go" in Hammond. Originally called The Oaks, the wood hotel was damaged during a fire, rebuilt and called The Second Oaks, only to be damaged once more by fire and resurface as Casa de Fresa. Built entirely from Southern Long Leaf Pine, Casa de Fresa (the Strawberry House) became the place to be seen for the elite of the area. Hammond as known as the Strawberry Capital and the Casa de Fresa acted as the auction house for the annual strawberry auctions. Casa de Fresa was a buzz of activity during the spring strawberry season and attracted a slew of traveling salesmen and military officers for their officers club in the off season. The hotel boasted "60 rooms, 40 baths and 5 completely furnished efficiency apartments, in the strawberry capital of the world." The Casa de Fresa was not only popular among travelers but among local residents as well. Hammond citizens would dine in the dining room and coffee shop regularly, which sold "Northern Coffee" and "Louisiana Coffee".

Casa de Fresa in its glory days. The Citizens National Bank building was styled
 after the hotel with the red and white facade pictured here. 
Cases de Fresa Hotel stayed open until 1966 when economic hardship forced it to close. For the next 10 years, the building lay in disuse for years with several key Hammond citizens lobbying for it to be salvaged and brought back to its former glory. However, a final fire in 1979 laid the hotel to rest but gave a new business a chance! 

Richard Woods, owner and operator of a local leather business, Rainbow Lotus, was in the middle of growing his new venture. He had the idea of using reclaimed wood as a building material. He knew that the virgin growth wood that could be salvaged from dilapidated building would make a strong, stable, beautifully aged building resource that is environmentally friendly. Woods bought doors and beams from what was salvageable from the burned Casa de Fresa, allowing the glory of this celebrated hotel to live on. The purchase helped Albany Woodworks begin building its inventory to allow it to continue to grow. Now with its 40th anniversary on the horizon, Albany Woodworks recognizes how the historical hotel that played such a prominent role in the community allowed it to grow into a mainstay of the Hammond area.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Hidden Gems: Alabama Tales That Grow On Trees

Our Hidden Gems series continues and the next stop is Alabama. Unbeknownst to many, Alabama has several famous and unusual trees that carry stories that most Alabama natives know nearly and dearly. From a tree that owns itself to trees with naturally formed letters, we take a look at these unusual trees and their back stories. 

From the blog post "From ancient underwater forests to oak that 'owns itself:' Strange Alabama tales that grow on trees" written by Kelly Kazek.
The Tree that Owns Itself

 A post oak in the picturesque town of Eufaula was, by some accounts, more than 200 years old when it achieved its liberation and subsequent fame in 1936. It had survived mishaps – the fire that destroyed the home of Confederate Capt. John A. Walker, in whose yard the oak stood, and a terrible tornado in 1919.

Mrs. Leonard Y. Dean, president of the Eufaula Garden Club in 1936, wanted to ensure the 65-foot-tall, 85-foot-wide tree survived for another 200 years. So she petitioned Mayor Hamp Graves Sr. and the city council, who asked Lt. Gov. Charles S. McDowell to draw up a “deed of sentiment.” In essence, the tree was deeded to itself.

But misfortune struck on April 9, 1961, when a storm toppled the mighty Walker Oak. A local business, International Paper Co., came to the rescue and donated a new oak. On April 19, 1961, the replacement tree was planted in the same spot.

Another “Tree that Owns Itself” is located in Athens, Ga.

The Boyington Oak

In 1834, a murder and subsequent hanging led to one of Mobile’s most enduring legends, the tale of the Boyington Oak.On May 11 of that year, local printer Charles R.S. Boyington, a known gambler, was seen walking with Nathaniel Frost, a man he reportedly owed money. When Frost was found stabbed to death near Church Street Graveyard, Boyington was the obvious suspect. He was convicted but, until the moment he was hanged on Feb. 20, 1835, Boyington declared his innocence.

He reportedly said that, after he was buried, a mighty oak would spring from his heart to prove his innocence. And an oak did grow atop his grave in Church Street Graveyard, where it can be seen today.

Orr Park’s Tinglewood

A walk through Orr Park in Montevallo is like a stroll through a storybook land. Cedar trees carved with likenesses of gnome-like faces and dragons line a winding trail near Shoal Creek. Visitors will see as many as 30 trees carved by local artist Tim Tingle, who carves only trees that are dead or dying and leaves the living ones to add to the park’s natural beauty. The project was begun in 1993 after several trees killed in a storm were slated to be cut down. Tingle asked the city for permission to carve the trees into artworks.

Stay Tuned for Part 2 of Hidden Gems: Alabama Tales That Grow on Trees!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

News Alert: Entrepreneurship Feature Released on Albany Woodwork's CEO

Blogger's Note: Our very own CEO, Richard Woods, was chosen to be featured in the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report. The magazine featured local entrepreneurs and highlights the many accomplishments of Richard in both his reclaimed flooring business and renewable energy business. 

Louisiana entrepreneur: Richard Woods


(Photography by Collin Richie: Richard Woods)

Position: Owner and CEO
Companies: Albany Woodworks and Waste to Energy Systems
What they do: Convert waste from communities, businesses, farms or resorts into energy
Address: 30380 Payne Alley, Suite 2 in Tickfaw
Next goals: Use the success of the gasification system to propel oil reclaiming from plastics

When Richard Woods noticed a barn being torn down in his Louisiana hometown of Albany 40 years ago, he had no idea the event would inspire him to open not just one, but eventually two unique businesses. He constructed his entire home with antique heart pine and cypress that he carefully salvaged from 100-year-old buildings like the barn, along with as much recyclable material as possible. “I’ve been an environmentalist my whole life,” Woods says. He found the reclaimed wood to be much better than anything people could buy new. “It naturally grew from that desire to use waste in a positive way for a business,” he explains. The home he built for his family is where Albany Woodworks got its start. Today the family business works to reclaim original well-seasoned beams, using state-of-the-art machinery, to be used in new construction or remodeling projects.

In the process of growing his lumber company, Woods had to find ways to deal with the waste his operations produced. In search of a sustainable use for byproducts like wood chips, sawdust and shavings, he began researching methods of converting these into a viable energy source in 2009. After five years of intense research and development, he invented the bioHearth, which uses gasification, a method of converting any kind of carbon-based waste into hydrogen and carbon monoxide. These combustible fuels can then run a generator, kiln or any other energy consumption system. “So it is not a limited market,” Woods explains. “It can go anywhere.” Now successfully running the Albany Woodworks generator from the plant’s waste, Woods is ready to take his bioHearth technology to market as part of his second startup, Waste to Energy Systems.

While gasification is being exploited in Europe and India to turn industrial waste into usable energy, Woods explains what makes his system more practical and more energy efficient is its ability to be installed on-site rather than the company having to haul its waste to a gigantic plant. “So you build a system that would fit right into their system; that is our unique concept,” he says. It might be surprising to discover Woods has no formal degree. “What I do is I know how to learn and I know who to apply what I’ve learned, and that is how I’ve built two businesses,” he says. “I think that is the key ingredient to entrepreneurship.” He is now using that same process to pursue patents for his technology. At age 65, Woods says he wanted to dedicate his last efforts to something that would make a difference in the world.

Juggling two businesses is no easy task for Woods, who will often pull an 18-hour day working to bring his bioHearth to market. Five months ago he put up a webpage to start marketing it and has since been inundated with contact from people wanting to know how it can help their industry. “People just started showing up, just like they showed up wanting my wood,” Woods say. He sees the bioHearth as a viable tool for emerging markets and counties—particularly in the Caribbean and anywhere with an electricity shortage, as well as anyone who is paying money to haul away waste. Woods has funded 75% of the venture himself, with aid from angel investors along the way. While his invention undoubtedly has many environmental benefits, the real key is economic viability, which he has achieved, calculating a return on investment on the system in just under five years.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Exploring the Architecture of New Orleans PT 2

In our last blog, we explored the creole cottage and american townhouse styles of houses in New Orleans. We continue our adventure in to the world of New Orleans' architecture that helps make the city one of the most unique places in the US.

(Picture Above) The quintessential look of the French Quarter in the form of a Creole Townhouse.

The Creole Townhouse is probably the most iconic building style in New Orleans. Take a walk down the streets of the French Quarter and most of the buildings you see are built in this style. Creole townhouses were built after the Great New Orleans Fire in 1788, the fire that destroyed 850 of the 1100 buildings in New Orleans at the time. The prior wooden buildings were mainly replaced with Creole Townhouses with courtyards, thick walls, arcades, and cast-iron balconies. The facade of the building sits on the property line, with an asymmetrical arrangement of arched openings. Creole townhouses have a steeply-pitched roof with parapets, side-gabled, with several roof dormers and strongly show their French and Spanish influence. The exterior is made of brick or stucco.

As the city of New Orleans expanded with wealthy newcomers, the Garden District was developed and one of the main building styles was the Double Gallery House. Double-gallery houses were built in New Orleans between 1820 and 1850. Double-gallery houses are two-story houses with a side-gabled or hipped roof. The house is set back from the property line, and it has a covered two-story gallery which is framed and supported by columns supporting the entablature. The fa├žade has an asymmetrical arrangement of its openings. These homes were built as a variation on the American townhouses. A famous example of a Double Gallery House is renowned author Anne Rice's home (pictured above).

Friday, September 25, 2015

Bringing The Outdoors In and Other Trends for 2016

Bloggers Note: It is hard to believe but 2016 is almost here. With the beginning of the year, arrives the new trends for Interior Design in any home and office. One of the perks of selling quality, artisan products is gorgeous reclaimed wood always stays on trend. Check out the fun, upcoming trends for 2016. From blog: 

Bringing the outdoor inside....inside trees:

Interior Design Trend No. 1: Bringing The Outdoors In

From decorating compact apartments with greenery to turning expansive backyards into glamping adventures, consumers are experimenting with how to bring nature into every aspect of their homes. HGTV’s David Bromstad explained that this means that consumers will be buying furniture they can use indoors and outdoors. In terms of interior decor, lifestyle expert Justina Blakeney shared that wall decor, accessories and small plant life inspired items are going to be hot. Wood accents, furniture, walls and other architectural features are the perfect match for this trend.

Interior Design Trend No. 2: Source Artisan Goods

From tassels and basketry to macrame and crochet, weaving is in. To embrace this trend, lifestyle expert Justina Blakeney advises consumers to be inspired by local finds. LG Studio artistic advisor Nate Berkus encourages shoppers to buy locally made and globally crafted goods. Berkus also states that consumers should not be afraid to mix vintage and artisanal items with mass produced goods. Consumers should not miss the opportunity to pair a Mongolian lambskin pouf and Moroccan rug next to a great wood accent piece.

Interior Design Trend No. 3: Minerals Are In

While polished geodes attached to lucite bases have been all the rage, minerals are going au natural now. Watch for bowls of pyrite on tables, big chunks of quartz used as display pieces and unpolished semi-precious stones turned into door pulls.

Interior Design No. 4: Tiles Are Going Geometric

Decorative backsplashes have gone strong for a long time. Designers are expecting to see consumers gravitating towards more geometric patterns that feature fluid movement. Cement and even wood are going to play a significant role in achieving this. Whether it is a backsplash, an intricately patterned floor or a countertop, fluid geometry is coming in strong.

Interior Design Trend No 5: Mix Metallics and Metals

The 1950s and 1970s are hot trends in fashion design collections right now, and it is no different in interiors. Midcentury Mod with brass, gold and metallic finishes are popular right now. Get ready to
embrace some retro bling.

Interior Design Trend No. 6: Make it Sustainable

From the foam in our couches to the the foundations that homes are laid on, Dwell president Michela Abrams noted that sustainability is at the heart of anything that is being manufactured today. Recycling, repurposing, reinventing and reusing are all things that consumers are beginning to consider when they make purchases today. Albany Woodworks' reclaimed wood is the answer for this sustainable trend.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Hidden Gems: Cypress Trees in Unusual Places Pt 2

Bloggers Note: The search continues for Cypress Trees in places you would least expect. The first part of our blog brought us to a 52,000 year old Cypress forest on the ocean floor off the coast of Alabama. This week, we look at a couple places in the U.S. one would not expect to find naturally growing Cypress Trees. 

(Pictured Above) The Goose Pond Cypress Trees standing in the frozen wetlands. Image by blogger Steven Higgs

Goose Pond Cypress Slough, Southwest Indiana:
Where the Wabash River meets the Ohio River, people claim this area looks more like Louisiana than Indiana. The Goose Pond Cypress Slough is one of the farthest north areas you will find Cypress Trees naturally. The area is made up of old Sloughs, side channels from the Ohio River, that run about four miles along the river. During the winter months, visitors have been known to cross the ice to touch the trees, not something one can do in the deep South! To preserve this unusual area of Cypress Trees, Indiana dedicated this area as a State Nature Preserve in 1995.

(Pictured Above): Louisiana or Delaware? A scene from Trap Pond State Park in Delaware

Trap Pond State Park, Delaware:
Located in the largest surviving fragments of what was once an extensive wetland lies Trap Pond State Park near Laurel, Delaware. Trap Pond is the northernmost extensive natural stand of bald cypress on the Eastern seaboard of the United States. A dam was built in the 18th century in the original wetlands that covered a vast amount of the Sussex County during peak logging times. This dam created Trap Pond and a perfect swampland area for the remaining Cypress Trees to grow. The area was named a state park in 1951.
(Pictured Above) The Lone Cypress Tree is an enduring landmark of the famous 17 mile drive along the California coast.

The Lone Cypress Tree, California: Even though it is not a Bald Cypress Tree, a Cypress Tree on a rock by the ocean hardly seems like a typical place to find one. The Lone Cypress Tree is a famous tree located on Pebble Beach, CA and is even claimed to be one of the most photographed trees in the US. It is a Monterrey Cypress, a type of Cypress native only to Pebble Beach and Point Lobos in California. It is a beautiful landmark that is said to be 250+ years old and has withstood fires, storms and is currently held in place by cables. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Exploring the Architecture of New Orleans

New Orleans is a place of intrigue, mysteries, good food and amazing architecture. Stepping on to the streets of New Orleans is like stepping in to a different time. Depending on the neighborhood you are in, the old architecture of the city never ceases to amaze and inspire the locals and those visiting the city. We have already highlighted the shotgun style house in our previous blog "Delving Into The Origins of the New Orleans Shotgun Houses"  but there are so many more beautiful building types that deserve the spotlight just as much. Let's explore the Creole Cottage, American Townhouse, Creole Townhouse, Raised Center Villa and the Double Gallery House.

Architecture of New Orleans

(Picture Above) Jean Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop

Walk to the streets of the French Quarter and chances are the majority of smaller homes you see are the Creole Cottages. These were primarily built between 1790-1850 and were concentrated in the original settlement of New Orleans, the French Quarter although during this time, they were the predominant style through the Gulf region. How can you tell if its a Creole Cottage? The building designs tells are the homes are single story, set at ground level with steeply pitched roof, symmetrical four-opening facade wall, set close to front property line, and made of stucco or wood exterior. Probably the most well-known creole cottage is Jean Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop, the oldest bar in New Orleans and possibly the U.S.

(Pictured Above) American Townhouse building style. Picture from

Another predominant building type in New Orleans is the American Townhouse. This style is mainly found in the Central Business District and the Lower Garden District. Built between the 1820-1850, the American Townhouse became a popular style during this time period since alot of cities were experiencing booms. Unlike the British Townhouse which denoted luxury and wealth, the American Townhouse was developed for its small footprint in order to maximize available area to build within a city. Find this style by its narrow three-story structure set near ground level, facade wall on property line, asymmetrical arrangement of facade openings, balcony on second floor. The exterior made of brick or stucco.

Stay tuned for part 2 of "Exploring the Architecture of New Orleans".

Friday, August 28, 2015

Hidden Gems: Cypress Trees In Unusual Places

Bloggers Note: Cypress Trees are generally synonymous with the swamps of the South, particularly Louisiana. However, this blogger has found some unusual places where Cypress Trees and Cypress Tree remains have popped up. In light of the the 10 year anniversary, here is a positive spin on how Hurricane Katrina uncovered an amazing and unusual place to find a Cypress Tree forest.

From the article "Primeval Underwater Forest Discovered in Gulf of Mexico" from the website

Scuba divers have discovered a primeval underwater forest off the coast of Alabama.The Bald Cypress forest was buried under ocean sediments, protected in an oxygen-free environment for more than 50,000 years, but was likely uncovered by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, said Ben Raines, one of the first divers to explore the underwater forest and the executive director of the nonprofit Weeks Bay Foundation, which researches estuaries.The forest contains trees so well-preserved that when they are cut, they still smell like fresh Cypress sap, Raines said.

The stumps of the Cypress trees span an area of at least 0.5 square miles (1.3 square kilometers), several miles from the coast of Mobile, Ala., and sit about 60 feet (18 meters) below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.

Raines reached out to several scientists to learn more about the forest. One of those scientists was Grant Harley, a dendrochronologist (someone who studies tree rings) at the University of Southern Mississippi. Harley was intrigued, and together with geographer Kristine DeLong of Louisiana State University, set out to discover the site's secrets.

The research team created a sonar map of the area and analyzed two samples Raines took from trees. DeLong is planning her own dive at the site later this year. Because of the forest depth, scuba divers can only stay below for about 40 minutes before coming up.

Carbon isotopes (atoms of the same element that have different molecular weights) revealed that the trees were about 52,000 years old. The trees' growth rings could reveal secrets about the climate of the Gulf of Mexico thousands of years ago, during a period known as the Wisconsin Glacial period, when sea levels were much lower than they are today. In addition, because Bald Cypress trees can live a thousand years, and there are so many of them, the trees could contain thousands of years of climate history for the region, Harley said.

"These stumps are so big, they're upwards of two meters in diameter — the size of trucks," Harley told OurAmazingPlanet. "They probably contain thousands of growth rings." The team, which has not yet published their results in a peer-reviewed journal, is currently applying for grants to explore the site more thoroughly.

Harley estimates they have just two years. "The longer this wood sits on the bottom of the ocean, the more marine organisms burrow into the wood, which can create hurdles when we are trying to get radiocarbon dates," Harley said. "It can really make the sample undatable, unusable."

Stay tuned for more Hidden Gems!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sneak Peak: Albany Woodworks Featured in N.C. Design Studio

Nestled between the picturesque Smoky Mountains and the sustainable world of Asheville lies Andrews, N.C., the home of newly founded Locust Trading Company. With the goal of housing sustainable building materials, Locust Trading Company was the perfect match for Albany Woodworks' products, offering people on the east coast an opportunity to get hands on with our flooring.

As one of the featured companies, Albany Woodworks will be displaying a variety of Solid Wood Flooring along with our new Engineered Flooring options, both perfect for nail down or glue down applications.

Hot Trend Alert: Our Barn Wood Oak Collection (pictured above) will be a main feature in the showroom! With all the aged beauty that only weather and time can give, and it's just what you wanted.

Andrews, once a small, sleepy town, is starting to see growth from the Harrah's Casino being built down the road in Murphy, NC and expected to open Fall 2015. The $100 million project is anticipated to bring over 1,000 jobs to the area. Andrews is already seeing a flurry of new businesses opening, including Locust Trading Company, with the anticipation of additional foot fall through the area.

Locust Trading Company will have its Grand Opening soon so stayed tuned for more photos from the event and the showroom area!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Part Two: Reclaimed Lumber in the Big Apple

Blogger's Note: The continued story from the front page article in the New York Times about Reclaimed Lumber from the Domino Sugar Factory taking the Big Apple by storm. 

From the New York Times Article "
Salvaging a Long­ Lasting Wood, and New York City's Past"

As the timber industry gobbled through northeastern and western forests, it began turning to the longleaf pine, also known as yellow or heart pine, that covered as many as 90 million acres from southeastern Virginia to eastern Texas and northern Florida, a forest where John Muir wrote in 1867 that he had “sauntered in delightful freedom.”

Some of the trees were three centuries old. Dense, durable and saturated with resin that made it unusually resistant to rot and insects, the timber proved rough work for builders to mill. But in the decades before steel began to dominate, longleaf pine was the strongest material around.

“Everybody in the wood business says the longleaf pine tree was the best wood the Lord ever made,” said Pat Fontenot, the owner of Olde Wood Accents in Washington, La., an antique pine dealer. “If it wouldn’t have been for the longleaf pine tree, we wouldn’t have been able to do the Industrial Revolution.”

The largest mass of longleaf pine in the city probably sits under the two towers of the Brooklyn Bridge. Completed in 1883, the bridge was built using caissons, essentially enormous airtight timber chambers that engineers sank into the riverbed, allowing workers inside to dig deeper into the earth below and workers above water to construct stone towers on top.

By 1938, the Great Southern Lumber Company, based in Pennsylvania, had sold its last longleaf pine log. Only about 3 percent of the original old growth forest survives, according to the United States Forest Service. Pine harvested today comes from farmed trees that are cut down young.

The only way to find original ­strength longleaf pine these days: Mine it from buildings like the Domino Sugar Factory or 443 Greenwich Street in TriBeCa, the brick and mortar vertebrae of northern cities’ industrial might.

“It’s a Southern tree that has been a part of New York City for 150 years,” Alan Solomon, the owner of Sawkill Lumber, who hunts down old lumber, from the Coney Island boardwalk to a Western Beef supermarket in the Bronx, said during a recent expedition to the TriBeCa building. “The city’s always reinventing itself. Stuff’s always getting knocked down.” It has taken Mr. Solomon’s team a year and a half to strip the brick ­and stone Romanesque Revival plant in TriBeCa, finished in 1883, of all its pine. The building’s tenants have included the Novelty Toy Company, which is said to have produced the first teddy bear; the American Steel Wool factory; a printing house; and, as manufacturing jobs drained out of the city, studios for architects, filmmakers and artists.

Stay tuned for the rest of the article!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Reclaimed Lumber in the Big Apple

Blogger's Note: Domino Sugar rings a bell in Southern Louisiana due to its history in the area. This blogger was amazed to find out there is more than one. Not only that, reclaimed lumber is in the spotlight, gracing the cover of this week's New York Times. As the daughter of one of the founder's of the reclaimed lumber industry, this recognition is long over due and brings to light the true beauty of the original forest.

From the New York Times Article "
Salvaging a Long-Lasting Wood, and New York City’s Past"

(Above): Domino Sugar factory in Lower Manhattan is getting attention as a source of incredible reclaimed lumber. 
The blue-collar shop floors fall silent, find new life as artists’ studios, then exchange their 19th-century guts for 21st-century wine cellars, marble bathrooms and private gyms: So goes the story in a city where time does not stand still for long, and where a neighborhood’s shifting fortunes can be told through its old warehouses and factories.

In the process, the city coughs up timbers that were logged and hoisted into place when it was almost young. New York is the country’s largest repository of the lumber that formed the spine of the Industrial Revolution — a five-borough safe deposit box for New England white pine and spruce, Pacific Northwest Douglas fir and, especially, Southern longleaf pine.

Vast hoards of the longleaf pine are entombed at each base of the Brooklyn Bridge. It once underpinned the New York City subway tracks. It endured the trampling of 150 years of Domino Sugar Factory workers in Williamsburg, buttressed the warehouses of TriBeCa and bore the weight of Brooklyn’s waterfront depots.

Now the sugar factory is being converted into condominiums, TriBeCa lofts are among the city’s most expensive real estate, and the East River storehouses have been razed to make way for more condominiums. And the longleaf pine has found new purchase.

The timber of the industrial age now graces Jefferson’s Monticello and the stately Maryland chamber where the Continental Congress once met. You can walk on it at the new Whitney Museum and New York’s Patagonia flagship store. Much of it is being reclaimed by the region it was hauled away from, when northern timber barons descended on the South’s millions of acres of virgin pine after the Civil War.

“The South was an extraordinarily poor region during that time, and was nothing but a resource base, and most of this wood came to New York,” said Larry Stopper, a partner based in Virginia at the reclaimed lumber firm Bigwood. “Now the industrial cities of the North are transforming themselves, and the South has plenty of money, and people want their old wood back.”

By now, as shelter-magazine readers and Pottery Barn customers alike know, reclaimed wood — salvaged from sources that include bourbon tanks and mushroom farms — has gone mainstream. In the case of New York City, salvaging wood also means salvaging the city’s past.

Stay tuned for part two of this incredible article. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Enduring Architecture of A. Hays Town

Blogger's Note: Richard Woods, CEO of Albany Woodworks supplied gorgeous  reclaimed  heart pine beams and cypress mill work for a few A. Hays Town projects.  Learn more about this acclaimed architect who's work brought new appreciation to traditional Southern Louisiana style and craftsmanship.

(Above): A classic example of an A. Hays Town designed home full of Southern Louisiana details such as plantation-style shutters and reclaimed old-growth cypress and heart pine used throughout.

From The Louisiana Architects Association website:

A. Hays Town is one of the South’s most beloved and iconic architects. He didn’t have just one career during his nearly eighty years as an architect but two—he was a mid-century modernist architect known throughout the Gulf Coast for his commercial projects, and he was a residential architect who embraced traditional features and the vernacular styles of South Louisiana. His work evoked a sense of place and helped to bring about a new style in the region called Louisiana Colonial Revival.  By the end of his career, he had designed more than 1,000 buildings in Louisiana and across the South.

(Above) Hays Town's involvement in the selection of interior materials, colors, and even furnishings is legendary - sometimes going so far as to include the recommendation of a dog, usually a German Shepard. - excerpt from The Louisiana Houses of A. Hays Town by Cyril E. Vetter & Philip Gould.

Town was truly a master architect whose work has been recognized by his peers in addition to political and business leaders and clients.  He is particularly known for having developed an architectural signature—the Town Style— that is distinct and set him apart from the majority of architects working in Louisiana as well as Mississippi during the middle of the 20th century. Through his remarkable ability to incorporate traditional design elements with modern, his eye for detail and proportion, and his desire to harmonize exterior landscapes with interior views, he helped encourage the resurgence of Louisiana’s vernacular architectural traditions.

(Above): Building was his life and some of the personal favorites of A. Hays Town are on display at the Old Baton Rouge State Capitol.  Exposed brick and traditional slate roofing became the signature of A. Hays Town's designs.

Louisiana’s Old State Capitol Museum will present The Enduring Architecture of A. Hays Town, an exhibit that examines Town’s architectural evolution, personal style, and hallmarks through objects, blueprints, and images.  The exhibit will be open from June 16-Sept. 5 with an opening reception from 5:30-7:30 p.m. June 17 in honor of Town’s birthday.  The reception, sponsored by the Louisiana Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, is free and open to the public.
Louisiana’s Old State Capitol is located at 100 North Blvd in downtown Baton Rouge.
Open Tues-Sat. 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; free admission

For more about The Enduring Architecture Of A. Hays Town exhibit, visit The Acadiana Advocate article here: Brick floors stained with beeswax to signature slate roofs, Old State Capitol exhibit puts A. Hays Town's architectural genius on display

Monday, July 13, 2015

Petrified Wood And Other Mythical Creatures

Blogger's Note:  On a recent trip to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the Woods family were treated to several examples of wood carvings, statues and even a large truck of petrified wood!  Known as the family who founded the reclaimed lumber industry with their company Albany Woodworks, it seems they have a deep appreciation for timber in all of its forms.  Here are a few photos of the trip, there was also a Mythical Creatures exhibition on display that offered insight into some of the traditions of ancient cultures. 

(Above): A Pegasus wood carving greeted guests at the Mythical Creatures exhibit.  There were also  coins featured depicting this timeless creature throughout history.

These mythical creatures stem from the ancient Greek mythology when the gods and goddesses on Mount Olympus played a significant factor in determining each man’s journey through life. Pegasus, the winged horse, was conceived by the Greek god Poseidon and Medusa.  The symbolic patron of writers, poets and creativity, the hoof of Pegasus is said to have created the spring of Hippodrome, the source of inspiration in Greek history.

From the Denver of Nature and Sciences Museum website:

About the Exhibition
Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns, and Mermaids

For thousands of years, humans have brought mythic creatures to life in stories, songs, and works of art. We catch glimpses of them everywhere, from the ocean depths to the open skies. Explore the stories of these wondrous creatures and uncover the truths behind the myths. Encounter large models of mythic and real creatures, see real artifacts and fossils, and create your own creature.

(Above): Petrified Tree Trunk on display at the Denver Nature and Science Museum.

From the informational display description: Minerals made this Jurassic tree hard as stone.  After it died, water brought minerals into the decaying wood.  The minerals crystallized and replaced the wood in a process called petrification.

A great visit to see Mythical Creatures and beautiful examples of carvings and natural petrified wood!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

8 Fun Facts About Trees

Blogger's Note: Home and business owners are opting for reclaimed and recycled lumber for many reasons - the most compelling being that it is a sustainable resource - eliminating tree harvesting for new lumber.  Here are 8 fun facts that may amaze you ... lets take a moment to appreciate just how great trees are.  Enjoy!

From the Sustainable Atwood website:
We have come across some fun information about trees that we thought we should share. See below for a fun list of facts you may or may not already know!

Fact #8: Tallest Tree
The tallest tree in the country is a Coast Redwood growing in northern California’s Redwood National Park. It is 369 feet tall and over 2000 years old!

Fact #7: The Longest Tree-Sit
On December 10, 1997, environmental activist Julia Butterfly Hill climbed a redwood tree in California to protest logging practices by the Pacific Lumber Company. She stayed there until December 23, 1999, setting a record for the longest tree sit.

Fact # 6: No Tree Dies of Old Age
No tree dies of old age. They are generally killed by insects, disease or by people. California Bristlecone Pines and Giant Sequoias are regarded as the oldest trees and have been known to live 4,000 to 5,000 years.

Fact #5: Largest Area of Forest
The largest area of forest in the tropics remains the Amazon Basin, amounting to 81.5 million acres.

Fact #4: Largest Forest Planted by People
Arbor Day was first observed in Nebraska in 1872. That state is now home to one of the world’s largest forests planted by people – over 200,000 acres of trees.

Fact #3: Trees can “talk” to each other
Some trees can “talk” to each other. When willows are attacked by webworms and caterpillars, they emit a chemical that alerts nearby willow of the danger. The neighboring trees then respond by pumping more tannin into their leaves making it difficult for the insects to digest the leaves.

Fact #2: Trees Save Energy
According to the USDA Forest Service, “Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30 percent and save 20-50 percent in energy used for heating.”

Fact #1: Trees on Earth for 370 million years
Trees have been in existence on the Earth for 370 million years.

If you enjoyed our 8 Fun Facts About Trees list, feel free to share it!