Building With History: Old Growth Riverwood Offers Reclaimed Wood Products
Human history and nature collude to produce incredible treasures more frequently than we realize. Often, however, such gems go unseen unless they are hunted down by special, dedicated people like Terrie and Chris Metz, owners of Old Growth Riverwood in Wilmington, NC.
“We pull logs out of the river,” says Terrie. “My husband actually worked with another company seventeen years and then we started our business, Old Growth Riverwood, six years ago.” The logs they pull out of the river are used to create incredible hardwood floors, architectural molding, cutting boards, tables, other furniture, and so much more. “When we pull the logs up,” Terrie explains, “they are totally intact. They’ve been stuck in the mud – some of them for over 300 years – and the mud preserves the logs.”
All sorts of people come to Terrie and Chris for their incredibly unique and sustainable building materials, and for the small business, big-hearted customer service they’ve become known for. “We don’t actually have any sales people – - it’s just us,” Terrie says. “We see builders, architects, and regular customers. Some people want hardwood floors. Some people want to do historic restoration and match old wood. And, some people don’t really care about the history of the wood – they just like the look of it.”
Old Growth Riverwood gets much of their wood by harvesting it from the Cape Fear river, but they also receive wood from other sources as well. “From the river we tend to get heart pine and cypress – and old oak on occasion,” Terrie says. “But we also deal with reclaimed wood from old buildings. We get phone calls from people with old buildings who are getting rid of the wood and we reclaim it. We have been getting a lot lately from an old cotton mill in Laurinburg, North Carolina. Truckloads of wood from the 1800s has come in.” They’ve even gotten teak from the USS North Carolina’s remodeling project.
Harvesting logs from rivers can yield more than just wood. Among the interesting objects that have come up from the river bottom along with the logs are cannon balls, chains, shackles, and bottles. When artifacts are found, they are first offered to the Cape Fear Museum. If the museum doesn’t want them, Chris and Terrie are free to keep them.
Although they started their business at the onset of one of the worst economic downturns our country has endured, Terrie says it’s been a wonderful experience. “Our business is growing every day. It’s a hard job, but we LOVE what we do – we love meeting the customers. We are going to keep moving forward.”