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A Short History of The Handmade Table

By the time of the late summer of 2008, I had built what might have been the largest warehousing operation of historic materials and entire historic buildings in the country. We were having great success working with individual clients and developers all over the USA, largely because we were able to bring an interesting and very unique look to the projects by using entire buildings and other historic fabric to the projects. Our work was being published in major magazines and business was brisk and good. At that time, I had been asked to manage the look of all the work of a major Denver real estate developer with four major projects on the drawing board all over the Eastern US.

Prior to those years, clients of mine from Atlanta, Georgia invited me to attend what was at that point the largest and most prestigious American Country antique show in America in Nashville, Tennessee. The show some of you may remember was called Heart of Country. I went to the show and was very, very impressed with everything there but one thing stood out for me. It was an exquisite farm table that, I was told, had been sold to a major Hollywood singer and actress for a very large sum of money. I inspected it carefully and my takeaway was that I could, using materials I already had in my possession, make a very, very good copy of that table. That was my very first thought that had anything to do with making furniture.

Much later, about 15 years later, I was part of a project with two real estate friends of mine that centered around bringing in historic buildings and creating something along the lines of a small compound of houses that would be part of an old Inn. That Inn is now The Inn at Half Mile Farm in Highlands, NC. I brought in eight separate buildings and put them together to make three houses. The buildings I brought in were from the time periods of about circa 1805 to about the mid 1840’s. When it came time to address the cabinetry, I found what I suspected all along would be the situation and that was that there was nowhere to be found anything in the way of cabinetry that would work in a circa 1812 house. The solution was that we were going to have to make all the cabinetry for the houses ourselves and that is exactly what we did. I hired two wonderful older gentlemen from a rural part of our county to take over that task and told them that “we are going to make what was on your grandmother’s back porch”. The very first piece they made was a masterpiece copy of a Pennsylvania hanging corner cupboard.

As we progressed with the project, we were required to also furnish the houses. We were having such great success that I decided I would also make as much of the furniture as we could. We made our very first table for that project.

To end this story, the crash of the real estate market in 2008 brought a quick end to the work the developer had on his books and a slow melting away of the work I had been doing. But in every situation is found some kind of blessing. Mine was The Handmade Table.

David Howard


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