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DULUTH - A local company is determined to make old things new again -- all while saving the environment from potential harm.
“The Old Globe Elevators were built in 1885, the elevator opened in 1887. And at the time it was not only the world’s largest wooden grain elevator, it was the world’s largest grain elevator,” David Hozza, partner of Old Globe Reclaimed Wood Company, said.
Friday, the elevators have been empty for more than two decades.
“Since 1989, the elevators have been sitting vacant and if left to sit any longer, they will deteriorate and have to be landfilled. They will just crumble and fall apart and have to be carted away,” Hozza said.
In 2006, one man and his partner bought the property, determined to preserve and reuse every piece of usable wood and metal in the three buildings.
“There’s six million board feet of old growth east and white pine that came from the surrounding forests,” Hozza said.
“About 95 percent is eastern white pine, there’s some yellow pine in it. The oak is just tight-grained and the doug fir, even after all these years, once you cut it, has this beautiful smell,” Annette Tracy, yard manager of the Old Globe Reclaimed Wood Company, said.
Quality, they say, just can’t be found today.
“They just don’t build them like this anymore. These trees that were cut down in the 1800s have tighter grain, more beautiful knots, different color, the wood is straight and true, it’s something they just don’t make anymore,” Hozza said.
However, their motivation is not just about the wood.
“If these buildings were allowed crumble and decay, if they are landfilled, torn down, or burned, all of that carbon that is in the wood would be released into the atmosphere. 2,200 tons of carbon in the form of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane is going to be released into the atmosphere. That’s equivalent of driving 15,000 cars for one year,” Hozza said.
So, they’re spreading the word to sell and store as much as they can, and said this pure wood can be re-purposed in many ways.
“We got furniture makers making it from beds all the way down to cabinets, flooring, paneling, then you got craftsmen making tinker boxes and you name it, it comes out of the wood,” Tracy said.
And they hope the century old elevators can be appreciated for years to come in many new forms as restaurants, homes, furniture and art.