Waste knot, want knot

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Firm recycling Corriher Mill materialsBy Shavonne Potts
LANDIS ó Generations of Landis residents worked in Corriher Mill in its heyday. The mill, located on South Main Street, has been vacant since 2003, and now parts of it could end up in your home.
Turning House Millworks, a new company in Landis, purchased the space and is in the midst of dismantling the 100-year-old building.
“We will recycle old buildings that would otherwise end up in a landfill,” said CEO Spencer Morten III.
Morten spoke Tuesday morning about the new venture.
Until about five years ago, most old buildings were torn down and their materials taken to the landfill. But more recently, the vintage wood is being used for other building projects.
Corriher Mill was founded in 1909 and production started in 1913.
The reclaimed wood, which includes oak and maple, will be carefully taken from the floor, and wooden beams from the ceiling will be sold. Hand-pressed bricks will also be taken down. Turning House will keep parts of the mill for its operations.
Morten said the company chose to operate in Landis because it was central to its primary sources for the wood, which is the Appalachian Mountain corridor and other places in the Southeast. Many of the buildings are factories and mills that are 75 to 150 years old.
The company will mill the lumber on site. In April, when its sister company, Turning House Furniture, is up and running in High Point, it will showcase custom furniture.
“The wood truly makes each piece one of a kind,” Morten said.
Using reclaimed or vintage wood can be done for a fraction of the energy and cost needed for processing freshly cut lumber.
Corriher Mill will yield 1 million board feet of lumber or 235,000 square feet of flooring ó the equivalent of more than four football fields.
By reclaiming this vintage wood, Turning House was able to save 19,000 trees.
“At both Turning House companies, we seek to be good stewards of the Earth. We are resurrecting forgotten and abandoned buildings in the form of beautifully made furniture and reviving the stories of these once proud buildings and companies,” Morten said.
Using a crow bar, workers will take each piece of wood from the floor one at a time.
Sales associate Amy Miller explained those are the only tools workers will need to take up the floor. The crow bars have been slightly adjusted for the right angle.
The project to deconstruct Corriher Mill will be complete around February 2010.
Miller explained that many of the people who reuse the wood and materials are those who have historic homes or preservationists who want materials for historic buildings.
Since Corriher Mill is not a historical site, the company was able to deconstruct the building. Turning House only deconstructs buildings that are not viable.
There are only about half a dozen companies that deconstruct wood.
“There are 1,300 buildings ready to be taken down in South and North Carolina,” Morten said.
Turning House also operates one of the longest indoor beam saws on the East Coast, being able to cut 45-foot-long pieces of wood.
Landis Town Administrator Reed Linn grew up about two blocks from the mill. He spoke to the group gathered. Linn recalled his grandmother beginning work at Corriher Mill in 1917 when she was 14. She worked until retiring in 1970. His father also worked briefly at the mill.
Plant manager Stewart Shoun guided a tour of the sawing process.
A ticket on the wood tells the history, specifically where it came from.
“The ticket stays on the wood until it is ready to be made into furniture,” Shoun said.
Currently there are about 11 employees who saw, de-nail and prepare the wood for shipping.
Depending on its future needs, the company could employ up to 50 people, Shoun said.
Morten’s great-grandfather was John D. Bassett, of Bassett Furniture.
For more about Turning House and other projects, including Corriher Mill, visit www.turninghousemillworks.com.
Contact Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.