Shopping for recycled timbers in old industrial facilities that are slated for dismantling can be very addictive. One of the more remarkable, and now gone, buildings I have seen was a granary in Albany, NY. When built, in the early nineteenth century, this fifty foot cube was the largest building in Albany County, which it remained for several decades. During my first site visit, I scarfed up a spectacular shard of white pine that had been polished by flowing grain to a breathtaking shape and texture.
By the time I visited the site for a second time, the building was gone; all that remained were basement bits in a big, scary, snow-lined pit. Standing at the brink, looking at the snow covered dregs of what had been a magnificent structure for nearly two hundred years, I spotted one special beam. The closer I looked, the more clearly I had to rescue it. It was not without some real bodily risk that I slithered into the crater and hauled the timber out on my shoulder, nor when it did not want to fit in the company Volvo wagon. It took several years for the right building and place to show up for re-using this hand-chamfered and lambs-tongued beauty. It is now the frontispiece of a noble office on the ground floor of a landmark garage/office/hospitality barn outside Boston. This project was just the first of several magnificent barns I have enjoyed building with Chip Dewing, of Dewing and Schmid.