Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Reclaimed pine beams with a history of Blues

From Ratpackstlouis.com
Albany Woodworks' CEO, Richard Woods, recently set off on a journey to Greenwood, MS to acquire beam stock for his reclaimed flooring business. What he ended up finding was a far more interesting story than the typical wood purchase. The building Woods inspected was located in a historic neighborhood in Greenwood, Mississippi called Baptist Town. This neighborhood is rich in history dating back to the early 1800's. Baptist Town was established primarily by African American workers when life in the South revolved around cotton plantations, gins, compresses, and oil mills. The area quickly became popular for late night revelers after the bars of Greenwood closed. The after hours popularity gave birth to a strong blues base and a safe haven for musicians that wanted to escape the cotton fields.

Photo from ratpackstlouis.com
Some of these musicians became quite popular and eventually legends of the Blues music genre including Honeyboy Edwards, Tommy McClennan, Robert "Dr. Feelgood" Potts, and, probably the most famous, Robert Johnson, Baptist Town is said to be the final residence of Robert Johnson when he passed away in 1938 at the young age of 27. A more recent famous resident is Morgan Freeman. Before the age of 10, Morgan Freeman lived in various cities including Baptist Town. In 2009, Baptist Town was added as a key point on the Mississippi Blues Trail, a state wide series which highlights the important role that Mississippi played in the development of the famous Blues genre. 

Woods was amazed at the unexpected back story of the town. "Part of what I love about this job is the opportunity to learn the history of these places and buildings that I pull wood from. I feel by using the quality, antique building materials from these places , it allows the history to live on."

Stay tuned for another interesting backstory discovered when the beams were actually brought back to Louisiana to be cleaned and prepped for milling!