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!