I found this website today. If you read my previous post about what I want to be when i grow up I mentioned Daniels Wood Land and a good model to work towards, albeit a bit large and diversified for my taste. I much prefer the work done at Heritage Antique Lumber, and in truth, I can see myself achieving a production model that more closely resembles these guys. They locate, acquire and deconstruct old barns in Michigan and reuse the lumber in creative construction projects such as kitchen cabinets, tables, flooring, and even pool tables.
All images from Heritage Antique Lumber.
Growing up and living in the finger lakes region of New York state, and with a farmer for a father, has taught me a lot about the importance of the old barns. My brother and I have spent a lot of time exploring old barns all over the region while my dad conducted business with the farm owners, and the most important thing I have learned from those experiences is that every barn is different, and every barn has a story. It is fascinating to walk through an old barn with my dad as he looks at every nail placement, every wear mark, every scrap of wood and retells the story of the purpose behind that piece. Just by looking at a few nails and some old beams he can work out the farmers typical day or how the barn was constructed, from where he hung his coat and hat and where he serviced his tractors to the process used to hewn the beams and maybe even where the wood came from. For all these reasons it pains me every time I see an old barn collapse onto itself after several years of disrepair. It would take weeks for a builder to even construct all the necessary members to begin building the structure, as every one had to be felled, (usually from the owner’s property) and hand formed to the right specifications, much different from having some laminated beams delivered from the big-box stores the next day. All those stories and unique character that has survived for hundreds of years simply gone, possible forever.
I have always had a passion for history, and an innate interest in lumber, salvaging old barn lumber to give them a second life after the barn has stopped being cared for seems like a fantastic way to combine those two interests. So next time you pass on old barn, thin of the first owner or builder and all the life and possibilities that lie within those old beams!