News > Blog > Artist Uses Reclaimed Wood to Create Pythian Market Furniture

Artist Uses Reclaimed Wood to Create Pythian Market Furniture

By Green Coast on 31 Jan 2018

Table made from rooftop jazz garden’s dance floor. In background is a reclaimed wood counter fascia.
View Larger Image

Table made from rooftop jazz garden’s dance floor. In background is a reclaimed wood counter fascia.

Renovating an historic building isn’t just about keeping the exterior’s bricks and mortar. It’s also sustaining and repurposing the building’s interior materials, which are often of a higher quality than what’s used today. So when Green Coast and the building’s fellow co-developers, ERG Enterprises and Crescent City Community Land Trust, discovered that the flooring for The Pythian’s rooftop jazz garden had been preserved, they knew it had to be part of the renovation.

“In some ways rebuilding The Pythian has been like an archeological dig,” says Green Coast’s Will Bradshaw. “We keep finding architectural treasures, but instead of sticking them in storage or a museum, we™re putting them back to use.”

To take advantage of the Heart Pine floor planks, the co-developers hired local woodworking and metal expert Matthew Holdren, who has been designing and producing a number of furniture pieces for the Pythian Market. Holdren first heard about the project from Bradshaw, who told him about how there was a prison in the early 1900s across the street from Pythian building, where the main New Orleans Public Library stands today, and inmates would dance to the music coming from the Pythian’s Rooftop Jazz Garden.

After The Pythian was first opened in 1910, the Rooftop Jazz Garden became one of city’s premier music venues and featured numerous New Orleans jazz legends such as Manuel Perez and A.J. Piron. It’s also been reported that Louis Armstrong played his first public appearance at The Pythian.

Creating the furniture, which includes a long banquette, tables, counters and other items, has been labor-intensive, but Holdren remains enthusiastic because he’s working with living history. Each floor plank is two inches thick—much thicker than today’s standards—and Holdren removes the tarpaper and nails, runs the planks through a table saw to get rid of the tongue and groove, and then biscuit joins the planks together.

“It’s quite the process, because the wood becomes very thin in terms of width, so you’re going to use many, many pieces,” Holdren says. “But I’m milling this wood and thinking that Louis Armstrong might have tapped his foot on this.”

Holdren doesn’t stop at the wood when it comes to his creations. He also designs and fabricates all of the furniture’s metal parts.

The results are incredible and show not only Green Coast’s commitment to sustainable development, but also demonstrate the artistic versatility of the reclaimed wood. Once the wood was used to help celebrate one of New Orleans cultural pillars: music. And now it’s being used to showcase another New Orleans art: food.

Categories: Building Green

Post a Comment