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.