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Purveyors of Lumber and Coal

bardwell Robinson 01

…and so much more.

Don’t underestimate the impact of lumber yards in the history of westward expansion in our region. Beyond the supply of standardized building materials (wood and brick, primarily), they were also a source for an astounding array of millwork, including doors, windows, trim (from moldings to built-ins), but also fancy good like fluted columns and caps, stained glass, and hardware, from cheap monel metal to brass. Yet, despite this range of product lines, these purveyors of forest products imposed a degree of uniformity on each community they served.

In addition to catalogues of their own products, companies like Bardwell-Robinson also offered a “library” of pattern books, collections of residential designs, often produced by designers calling themselves architects. [Remember, the first professional licensing law was enacted in New York in 1899; prior to that time the practice of architecture was unregulated.] Pattern books were commonplace between the Civil and First World wars, and you’d be surprised by the range of residential style and size they offered.

lumber yard

So tonight I find myself imagining Agincourt’s lumber yard and wondering: Was it a franchise or independent? A monopoly or competitive in its market area? Progressive?

I’m happiest in the liminal space between the vernacular and the world of high fashion. This is where I belong.


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