Posts

Wood With a Story—HGTV’s Dream Builders show

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.

Why National Magazines Spotlight Micanopy

One magazine reports serious world news; the other features beautiful homes. Yet, both chose to spotlight a small Micanopy, Florida business in their current issues.

The rare heart pine of Goodwin Heart Pine Company is the cover story of the April issue of Fine Homebuilding, an upscale, glossy publication. At the other end of the spectrum, the wood and its romantic history hit page 50 in the May 30, 1994, issue of U.S. News and World Report.

There’s a good reason for all this interest … Goodwin Heart Pine is the only company in America, as far as they can tell, to retrieve from Southern riverbeds, wood that was cut down at least a hundred years ago by loggers. The wood is virtually extinct today because high demand for the hard heart pine in the 1800s and early 1900s caused loggers to clear-cut 500 acres throughout the South.

“The loggers would float the cut logs down river to the mills. Some of them would roll off the log raft and sink to the bottom,” said George Goodwin, president. “We put on wet suits and carefully retrieve these logs by hand because the wood is like new and is stunning when milled.”

It is not the first time this specialty company has garnered national attention. More than five million viewers watched Goodwin and his crew locate lost heart pine logs a couple of years ago when Norm Abrams spotlighted him on The New Yankee Workshop.

Goodwin Heart Pine can be found from Catalina Island to Martha’s Vineyard, and graces numerous homes and businesses, including the homes of several celebrities, such as the well-known TV acting couple featured in the current Fine Homebuilding. The couple, who asked to remain nameless, selected Goodwin Heart Pint for their kitchen cabinets.

“This wood is nothing like the yellow pine logged today,” Goodwin said. “Our logs, many of them 400 and 500 years old when they were cut down a century ago, are preserved by the cool river water and lack of oxygen. The heavy, dense heart remains in perfect condition, unspoiled by saws and nails.”

The changing ecological balance and clear-cutting of original growth forests have caused the Longleaf Pine, which Heart Pine comes from, to pass into extinction. It is available in limited quantities either by salvaging timbers from old buildings, cutting down the few trees left, or like the Goodwins do it … pulling them from riverbeds.