What We Have:
What We Do:
Don't forget to
In the early 1970s the landscape of the Lehigh Valley in Eastern Pennsylvania started to go though significant changes. What I knew as "country" or farmland became more and more developed. I watched the barns, houses and entire villages either bulldozed over or burned to the ground. Even though at that time I didn't fully comprehend exactly what these structures represented, I had difficulty understanding how our society could destroy and place such little value on what was once our history. I wanted to learn more about and to preserve how our Pennsylvania German ancestors lived.
I decided to collect as much as I could possibly save. Instead of just bulldozing over the farmland structures, I started to dismantle country homes and barns and other structures of origin circa1740-1900. I brought doors, mantels, flooring, molding, windows, and iron hardware to my home. In a short time I was able to fill three barns with 18th, 19th, & early 20th century materials. To me these were precious works of art and architecture made by the hands of our ancestors, yet, many of my friends laughed and called me "Sanford."
But word got around and soon folks asked me if I was willing to sell some of these materials. Since I knew I had far more than I would need, I decided to provide these vintage building materials for others to use in the construction of their own homes and Wood Natural Restorations was born, officially registered as a business in 1978.
Learning From The Past
Through the years we dismantled and rebuilt quite a few structures and documented the most important of these. All these structures were either scheduled for demolition or no future use was anticipated. I seized the moment in our evolving times to play a part in preserving how our ancestors lived.
I learned most of what I know from the actual experience of removing many structures over the years. I also began reading vernacular 18-20th century books, attending timber frame conferences, and talking to other experts of the Pennsylvania German culture, architecture and art. Over time I developed a fuller understanding and appreciation of our own Pennsylvania German culture and architecture. Ironically, I discovered that recycling of materials for building, and moving structures from one location to another is nothing new. This is something the early settlers did too. I was pleased to realize that what I had been doing was a recycling of our heritage in other ways beyond recycling the objects themselves.
What started out as a curious desire to save vintage architectural elements for future use has turned into a successful business, filled with unknown surprises. Over the span of about three decades I've had many interesting clients and will surely meet many more through this web site. I look forward to sharing with you the rewarding experience of coming into touch with the spirit of the past through hands-on contact with the work our ancestors left behind.
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