Today Goodwin offers River Recovered Antique Heart Cypress in many grades and milling patterns for paneling, cabinetry and millwork. We follow the 1904 grading standards, the last time any were published for this rare wood.
For all you Habitat for Humanity lovers, this doghouse was made by Goodwin Heart Pine to benefit. If you think antique pine flooring is gorgeous, you should see antique heart cypress. Russ Morash, This Old House producer, says, “The River Recovered Heart Cypress from Goodwin in my entry vanity is some of the most beautiful wood in the world.” Thanks Russ. We love you too!
Credits: Randy Batista Photography for hosting the event. Architect Tom Smith for designing the doghouse. Rick Bennett for building it while working at Goodwin. All of the above reside in Gainesville, FL.
Call for a sample of this beautiful wood for your very own.
When I pulled up to Camp Crystal Lake the other day it took me back 30 years to when my daughter and her friends went there to summer camp. The place hadn’t changed much. The longleaf pine trees along the camp trails were even more beautiful.
I made my way to the where UF College of Design, Construction and Planning students were building a solar bath house using Goodwin’s river recovered antique heart cypress as screens and building reclaimed antique heart pine beam trim as roofing boards. My work in green building puts me in touch with so many talented and wonderful people. It’s especially heart warming to see the student’s passion for understanding a place and building a beautiful and functional design that lasts.
Thank you Ashley, Erica and Dr. Hailey and all the great staff at the College for all you do.
Savannah’s port has always played a significant role in the city’s history, serving as a leading shipping avenue for New World products bound for Europe. Now the wharf pilings that launched those ships 250 years ago is continuing to live on, as reclaimed wood for new flooring in Savannah and across the country.
All of a sudden—perhaps with a remembered sense of patriotism or new nesting instinct—modern designers and homeowners are rediscovering antique wood floors. One company that specializes in recovering antique woods recognized the inherent benefits of the Savannah River dock pilings and purchased them to remill into luxury flooring, millwork and stairparts.
The pilings are made of heart pine and heart cypress older than any previously recovered antique pine and cypress, according to George Goodwin, president of Goodwin Heart Pine Company, located outside Gainesville, Fla.,
“We have been recovering heart pine and heart cypress for more than 25 years and this wood is older than any antique wood I’ve seen,” Goodwin said. “These pilings were constructed about the time General James Oglethorpe was creating Savannah and were hundreds of years old when they were cut down. And just as Savannah is rich in architectural and natural beauty, so too is the wood from it’s first dock.”
The pilings were made from original-growth Longleaf Pine and Bald Cypress. The cypress is a survivor from prehistoric times, commonly living more than 1000 years and towering over 100 feet. These giants of the southeastern swamps helped build America along with heart pine from Longleaf pine trees, which grew slowly and are hard and extremely durable. Both of these antique woods are in limited supply and available only from specialists who reclaim them.
The indigenous woods withstood the elements and became the principal building materials through the entire area. The dock was made up of logs and beams, many of which still show the ax marks where they hand hewn.
Tim Wellford, who owns a restaurant on the pier at St. Simons, installed Goodwin’s Midnight Heart Pine™ flooring in his contemporary home and loves both the look and the romantic history of the historic wood. Next he plans to build an entertainment center from the Midnight Heart Cypress™.
“I didn’t even know about this wood until I start researching wood,” Wellford said. “It’s so much better than any ordinary wood because it’s a better product, it’s good looking and it has historical value. I just never knew I could have wood this nice.”
Heart Pine is hard, nearly indestructible and has a rich red patina. The Savannah River pilings offer antique heart pine with chocolate tones.
Heart Cypress, also called antique tidewater cypress, is fine grained and finishes to a warm, honeyed brown. It is often used for paneling, trim, fireplace surrounds, mantles, whole slab table tops and exterior projects. The heart cypress from the Savannah wharf piling are a bit darker.
“Throughout its eons of adaptation, original-growth cypress developed natural oils that resist insect and water damage, which you just don’t find in other woods,” Goodwin said. “It was a favorite of Frank Lloyd Wright’s and, with its blend of vertical straight grain and arching swirls, it’s easy to see why.”
Goodwin said the dock functioned through the 1800s and pilings could still be seen intact from River Street in downtown Savannah looking toward Hutchinson Island until the summer of 1997. The decision to build a theme park and raceway created the need to remove the pilings.
Known for his passion for conserving original-growth wood without cutting trees, Goodwin finally secured the rights to buy the pilings after more than 18 months of researching the issue. The homeowners fortunate enough to install this rare treasure appreciate his diligence.
“My wife is born and raised in this area,” Wellford added. “The fact that we have a floor from a local landmark just adds to the benefits we receive. If we ever sell this house, I know the historical value will be a great selling point.”
Gold in the form of rich hues and grain of aged Heart Pine and Heart Cypress has been submerged for hundreds of years in the Suwannee and other Florida Rivers. This year these highly treasured trees will surface, thanks to ecologically aware people like George Goodwin, who petitioned and won the privilege to retrieve them without disturbing the surrounding Eco-systems.
When the trees were initially hewn, it was the oldest and most dense trees that rolled off the logging rafts and slipped into the darkness of the Suwannee. Most of the trees recovered by Goodwin and Company are hundreds and sometimes thousands of years old. The wood colors range from golden honey to a rich burgundy red. The well-defined grains are works of art ranging from select arches to vertical pin stripes to curly or burl grain. The wood is carefully sawn, slowly air-dried, then kiln-dried and meticulously milled to the specifications of the particular project and the customer’s needs. Goodwin follows the 1904 grading rules for Heart Pine and Heart Cypress and sets the standards for antique woods today.
Whether for restoration or for the beauty of the wood being used in modern design, Goodwin’s recovered Heart Pine has starred in PBS’s This Old House and The New Yankee Workshop. It has played a role in HGTV’s Dream Builders and has been a notable in such magazines as Women’s Day, U.S. News and World Report and Fine Homebuilding. Most recently, Goodwin was featured in Southern Living, December, 1999.
George Goodwin scours southern rivers hunting for sunken treasure in the form of rare Heart Pine and Heart Cypress logs lost over a century ago during water transport to nearby sawmills.
This modern-day treasure hunter actually is the owner of Goodwin Heart Pine Company. Since 1979, he and his crew have donned wetsuits to retrieve the sunken logs by hand, one at a time, so his small North Florida lumber company can mill the timber into fine antique flooring and home furnishing.
“Logging without cutting trees,” as Goodwin’s environmentally safe work has been described, makes for a fascinating tale. Goodwin, though, believes the river-recovered logs are the real story because of their rich yet heartbreaking history, which saw these magnificent resources depleted in a few short decades in the 1800s.
Now, a national television show wants to tell both stores.
Goodwin’s unusual river-recovery method of logging will be featured in December on Dream Builders, a 30-minute program on Home & Garden Television (HGTV) cable and satellite network. The show offers the latest trends, styles and techniques used by today’s builders and showcases uncommon construction projects across the country.
Goodwin and his treasured timber will be featured on the Dream Builder’s episode to air twice on December 15 at 11:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. It will repeat on December 17 and 18 at 11 p.m., December 21 at 7:30 p.m. and December 22 at 2:30 a.m. The show is viewed in nearly 31 million American households in more than 2,000 cable systems. HGTV is available nationwide through DirecTV, PRIMESTAR, and C-band packages.
The cameras will tag along with Goodwin on a log-recovery outing on a South Georgia river. They will follow the recovered timber’s trek through the milling process at the Goodwin lumberyard, where it is transformed into vintage flooring, furniture, and furnishing—literally, “history for your home,” as Goodwin calls the presettlement wood.
Wood from these trees, especially “heart of longleaf” pine, was highly valued as all-purpose timber by America’s first settlers and later was used in building the homes and factories of colonial and industrial America. Sadly, clear-cutting of vast southern forests in the late 1800s wiped out virtually the entire range of old-growth Heart Pine and Heart Cypress forests.
Today, the only place to find the last vestiges of this virgin antique wood is where it was left behind—under water on the southern rivers used by many timber operations in the 1800s to raft their logs to nearby mills.