Saving the Hilton Barn

 

FullSizeRender (14)There tend to be four reasons why barns are torn down.

  1. They are damaged or have not been properly maintained, leaving them structurally unsound.
  2. The owner is no longer able or willing to pay the upkeep costs (repair, taxes, insurance, etc.).
  3. To make way for future land development.
  4. The owner is looking to “cash in” on an asset.

We do our best to discourage those who fall into the last category. Pioneer Millworks was born eons ago as an offshoot of our sister company New Energy Works Timberframers (a leader in the timber frame industry). Working in close proximity with these talented craftsmen, engineers, and architects for all these years has given us a unique appreciation for timber frame construction and it’s historical roots in the architecture of American barns.

timber_frame_barn_winter

New Energy Works built barn.

timber_barn_interior

Interior of New Energy Works barn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While salvaging barn wood is integral to our business, we consider it an ethical obligation to discourage unnecessary barn demolition and encourage the preserve these historic structures.

Situations that fall into the third category cause us a bit more ethical grief because perfectly good barns are often torn down to make way for land development. Unfortunately, the fate of these barns is usually sealed by the time we get involved and whether or not we purchase the wood is unlikely to motivate the developer to change their plans.

In the summer of 2015 I was asked to visit a barn in Voorheesville, NY which was going to be torn down to make room for a country club’s expansion. The local community’s efforts to secure public funding to preserve the structure had met a dead end. At the time I was heading home with my family from a vacation in New Hampshire so I made a quick detour to assess the structure.

Charley taking some measurements with his Fatmax tape measure.
The barn far exceeded my expectations. It was huge; far larger than anything I had ever seen in New York. The structure was entirely built out of circle sawn Eastern White Pine timbers and joists. My two-year-old son and I spent an hour or so taking measurements and snapping photographs.

IMG_6050Our preference was to see the barn preserved, but since this was unlikely to happen we could at least honor the barn’s legacy by giving the wood new life and sharing its story. This is what Pioneer Millworks does best.

We later sent the owner a proposal to purchase the material, which totaled nearly 40,000 board feet – an exceptional amount of material for a single barn, but we never heard back. Our assumption was that someone else had outbid us for the material. Then, recently, purely by chance, I stumbled upon this Facebook page.

Turns out the barn had been saved! A generous donation of land, coupled with an epic community fundraising effort and secured government grants allowed the barn to be relocated to a newly created park located across the street from the barn’s original location.

hilton-barn-exterior

920x920These stories of successful barn preservation efforts are a real inspiration to us as they are often initiated by just a handful of individuals, but end up involving the dedicated efforts of a whole community and more! We at Pioneer Millworks are thrilled that the Hilton barn, whose impressive size left a lasting impression on me, is still standing and now public property. Kudos to all involved!

If you’d like to get involved with barn preservation, here are a few groups we’re fans of:

RESTORE OREGON – HERITAGE BARNS
NEW YORK STATE BARN COALITION
NATIONAL BARN ALLIANCE

 

Beyond Weathered: Raked, Kissed, and on Fire

RKOF

Pushing boundaries is a challenge our teams thrive on. Things get creative after handling thousands of board feet of over 20 reclaimed wood species in countless grades. The latest results? We’re well beyond the weathered surfaces most associated with reclaimed wood—swapping out molder blades, introducing saw techniques, and adding a bit fire.  We’re bringing in pops of colors and contemporary textures to whet your creative palette.

PMW_Raked_AP
Welcome to Rakedbringing a modern twist to our more traditional reclaimed wood. We’re milling this dimensional character on a variety of wood facades. Revealing the inner bright and clean wood which contrasts with rugged or painted surfaces, this high relief texture is yielding a crisp, graphic pattern well suited for any vertical surface.

PMW_Raked_Chroma

 

PMW_SawKissed_DF

Kissed—Swooping arcs add warmth and grace to our Saw Kissed Douglas fir. This wood becomes even more visually compelling with an artfully applied sawn texture to the original reclaimed surface. We find this makes for casual and warm paneling or flooring, across whole surfaces or highlighting details inside and out.

PMW_Color_SSB
On Fire—Shou Sugi Ban is an ancient Japanese technique of burning wood as a preservative treatment for exterior siding. We apply this process to our sustainably harvested Larch creating a dark, slightly iridescent look that in exterior uses can change over time, depending on its exposure to the elements. The evolving look suggests the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi – a reminder of the transience and imperfection of all things.

Ranging from shallow char to a deep char or enhanced with color and suitable for interior or exterior projects, this ever evolving product gives a dramatic effect.

PMW_Color_GA

Added Color—Bringing in color further celebrates the character that we love about reclaimed. We’re excited about the bold hues some of you have been requesting. Bright or soft, we’ve found that carefully adding color enhances the natural texture and character of reclaimed wood.

PMW_WireColor_DF

Double Up—Opaque painted boards are fun, but we can’t resist adding some texture. While a wire brush floats over the dense heart grain it whisks away the softer sapwood leaving a raised texture along with color on each plank. Knots, nail holes, other signs of previous life continue to bring their originality to this texture and color treatment.

What you can do with these new textures and finishes is limited only by imagination—we’ve created custom paneling, bar wraps, fixtures, and more for a variety of clients. Interested in pushing your design boundaries? Reach out to our Reclaimed Wood Design Experts. They’re always excited to brainstorm.

Design Week Portland Artist Feature: Zenbox Design

Karma, Jen and Bryan Danger

Karma, Jen and Bryan Danger

Bryan Danger started Zenbox Design after a May 2014 article in the New York Times featuring he and his partner Jen’s Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) garnered a lot of attention. Bryan has a master of Architecture from UofO but moved into Graphic Design and somehow found himself working in a high-tech corporate office for 14 years. After a year driving through Mexico and Central America in their 67 VW Bus, Bryan and Jen moved back to Portland to start on their new path. The problem? They had renters in their home. Solution? They had a 480-square foot garage that wasn’t being used. They designed and built out the garage into a cozy living space. Word got out quickly and readers and neighbors alike were demanding Bryan design their ADU and custom furniture. Hesitant at first, the couple wanted to keep their new found “nomadic balance”. Though they had been working with neighbors for free for some time, zenbox design was officially born and takes on a few clients every year for custom homes and furniture. The rest of the time the couple rents their garage on

The problem? They had renters in their home. Solution? They had a 480-square foot garage that wasn’t being used. They designed and built out the garage into a cozy living space. Word got out quickly and folks started requesting Bryan design their ADU and custom furniture. Hesitant at first, the couple wanted to keep their new found “nomadic balance”. Though they had been working with neighbors for free for some time, Zenbox Design was officially born and takes on a few clients every year for custom homes and furniture. The rest of the time the couple rents their garage on Airbnb and travels with their dog, Karma, around the continent in their custom sprintervan (another Zenbox project).

1. How would you refer to yourself? Woodworker? Artisan? Craftsman?
Designer/Creative. Our designs range from custom furniture and installations to small custom homes.

2. How did you get started?
Ive always designed/built as much of my own furniture/environment as I could. In 2013, my wife and I had downsized and purged all our belongings to take a 2 year road trip. Upon returning we hated the idea of simply buying all our furniture rather than each piece being intentional, and started designing/building them instead.

The garage transformed into an ADU.

The garage transformed into an ADU, courtesy of zenboxdesign.com

3. Why wood?
Our designs tend to use a combination of wood and steel, but we feel wood is critical because of the softness and warmth it brings to a space. All the better if that wood is also reclaimed and has a story/history to tell.

4. What was the first thing you made from wood?
As best I can recall, a 3’ tall model of the Trojan Horse, when I was 6th grade. As Zenbox design, I think our first piece was a steel and reclaimed wood barstool that we still use (and offer to clients) today.

Barstool

Bar stool

5. What does being creative meant to you?
It’s simply how my brain works—I have to be designing or creating something to feel active or alive. It’s not a switch I can turn off and I naturally find my brain creatively redesigning every space I walk into and everything I touch.

6. Do you have any rituals?
None.

7. What is your favorite piece?
Our tiny home has a bar/island that takes up no space on a day to day basis but can roll out to seat 6–8 when we entertain. It’s a 6’ long slab of reclaimed fir we took out of the house in the remodel and it seems to be the perfect combination of creative reuse because the material is serving in its second life and the piece itself serves multiple roles (and is also the centerpiece of our home).

6' slab of reclaimed fir, courtesy of zenboxdesign.com

6′ slab of reclaimed fir, courtesy of zenboxdesign.com

8. Who inspires you?
Anyone who is thinking and living outside the box, breaking norms and following their dreams!

9. What do you hope to communicate through your work?
Clean lines. Elegant simplicity. Functional beauty.

10. If you weren’t doing this what would you be doing?
We seem to be constantly reinventing ourselves, so “this” is different every day.  Luckily we seem to keep finding clients that push our creativity and expertise, so the evolution of Zenbox Design is created by the projects and clients we choose to partner with. If we one day run out of both client and personal projects, I guess I would likely become a tattoo artist, or scuba diving instructor, or both.

11. The ultimate piece you want to create?
I feel like each new client presents this opportunity.  The goal is always to design that person or families’ perfect custom home. To craft both the environment and pieces within it in a creative and functional way so that their living space literally transforms their lifestyle.

12. What’s your favorite thing about PDX?
The people. The creatives. The dreamers.  We travel much of the year and have yet to find anyplace with the intense diversity, creativity, and “weirdness” that is Portland. It’s almost impossible to not be charged or pushed creatively here. We live our lives outside the box and Portland seems to the only place where that is not only accepted but fully understood and supported/celebrated!

13. Favorite song?
Anything with a fiddle.

14. Favorite bridge?
Steel.

15. Favorite neighborhood
Division/Hawthorne.

16. What’s your favorite tool?
The planer. The process of getting just beneath the surface of reclaimed wood to find out what beauty lies beneath, it never gets old.

zen barcart for Design Week Portland

zen bar carts for Design Week Portland

Bryan and Jen Danger from Zenbox Design at read:grain, works with reclaimed wood on Friday, April 28th from 4-7pm during Design Week Portland. For more information, go here.

Design Week Portland Artist Feature: Global Homestead Garage

Philip Krain from Global Homestead Garage, art by Jennifer Korsen

Philip Krain from Global Homestead Garage, art by Jennifer Korsen

Philip Krain is an entrepreneur, consultant, and founder of Global Homestead Garage whose mission is to provide community members a platform to grow big ideas using shared resources. A series of fortunate events lead to his dream of running an incubator space for makers in Portland; in 2016 he received an email in his junk folder that advertised a business for sale. That business was Shop People, which is the original community makers space. It hosts around 30 artisans in the heart of the eastside industrial district. There is event space, artist studios, a lounge; shared equipment is provided for jewelers, metal workers, and wood workers—all now part of Global Homestead Garage thanks to that email.

1. How would you refer to yourself? Woodworker? Artisan? Craftsman?
My primary role within the Global Homestead Garage is to create a platform for artisans and small businesses to grow big ideas using shared resources. When given the opportunity, I enjoy designing and creating with natural and upcycled materials.

2. How did you get started?
My previous career as a renewable energy developer allowed me to work with architects on active and passive solar design. My recent hands-on work has focused on landscape design and implementation as well as home remodeling. As a result of these projects, I took an industrial design class, which solidified my passion for problem-solving design.

3. Why wood?
I love working with wood, as it is a natural, beautiful, and soothing material. Although it’s a renewable resource, we need to honor its scarcity, reclaim its integrity, and enhance its value in our life.

4. What was the first thing you made from wood?
I remember making an ash baseball bat in seventh-grade shop class. It wasn’t the best piece of wood and it broke shortly after I began to use it. As an adult, I turned a stick shift knob for my Jeep from a chunk of maple burl.

5. What does being creative mean to you?
To me, being creative means finding realistic solutions using limited resources (tangible or intangible) and unlimited options.

6. Do you have any rituals?
No, but I should make time for some…

7. What is your favorite piece?
I love our front yard. It’s an all-encompassing portfolio of permaculture, craftsman, and playful design.

Phillip's front yard project.

Phillip’s front yard project.

 

8. Who inspires you?
Children inspire me because no one should bare the burden of fixing other people’s mess. We need to work to clean our mess so that the children of children can enjoy their lives.

9. What do you hope to communicate through your work?
There is inherent value in many items that have been deemed worthless and may be headed for the landfill.

10. If you weren’t doing this what would you be doing?
Great question. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

11. The ultimate piece you want to create?
Global Homestead Garage is my ultimate project.

Lobby at Global Homestead Garage

Lobby at Global Homestead Garage

12. What’s your favorite thing about PDX?
It used to be the smell of beer riding my bike down West Burnside at 2 am. Today, it’s the positive energy of all the people. My neighbors continue to rally as leaders within our community for a life designed with sustainable intention.

13. Favorite song?
Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue – “So What”.

14. Favorite bridge?
The Sellwood Bridge.

15. Favorite neighborhood?
Sellwood.

16. What’s your favorite tool?
My laptop.

Doug fir used for Philip's table for Design Week Portland

Doug fir used for Philip’s table for Design Week Portland

Philip Krain from Global Homestead Garage at read:grain, works with reclaimed wood on Friday, April 28th from 4-7pm during Design Week Portland. For more information, go here.