Local Wood Resources Get Second Life

Turning House Furniture and its sister company, Turning House Millworks, located in Bassett, VA, are attracting national attention, including a recent mention in the environmental blog TreeHugger. It is not only the quality of their distinctively vintage furniture pieces that is turning heads, but also the signature deconstruction process employed to source materials for such pieces. The company maximizes the materials salvaged from historic buildings that have been slated for deconstruction throughout the Appalachians.

Indeed, the company claims: “In addition to the wood, we recycle 98 percent of the structure, including bricks, copper and steel, even the nails extracted from the wooden beams and boards. We also use recycled materials for packing and shipping.” By doing this, Turning House Millworks “secures vintage lumber from early turn-of-the-century buildings that are unable to be restored, but that hold precious and rare wood varieties.”

The company is careful to ensure that their supply only comes from buildings that are unable to be restored, and does not deconstruct buildings that have historical significance. Many times, it is private owners or city managers who reach out to the company, seeking assistance in turning a blighted building into salvageable materials.

Following the deconstruction process, the wood materials are put through a multi-step milling process to ensure that wood can meet necessary speculations for the next building project. The Millworks offers wood from so-called vintage species, including Southern Longleaf Pine, Black Gum, Wormy Chestnut, Birch, Beech, Hickory, and other species indicative of the region’s rich timber resources.

The company maintains stories about buildings that have sourced their wood supply, including the Rip Van Winkle Distillery’s Lawrenceburg, KY Warehouse; R.J. Reynolds’ Tobacco Sheds in Winston-Salem, NC; and the Greeneville Redrying Co. Warehouse in Greeneville, TN.

Some of that wood is then turned into pieces available for sale through the Turning House Furniture arm. Purchase information is available on the company website.

By salvaging and repurposing the region’s lumber resources, Turning House is attempting to preserve the distinctive character and spirit of the wood’s history—a history entwined with that of the Appalachian region.

Kristin Tracz

About Kristin Tracz

Kristin Tracz served MACED’s Research and Policy team from 2009-2012 working on clean energy policy, energy efficiency programs and the Appalachian Transition Initiative. She joined MACED after finishing her Master of Environmental Management degree at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. She now lives and works in Washington, DC.