Our business has always operated under one overarching practice: that we source all of the wood used to create our lathwork art pieces from historic homes in and around Nashville. We don't tear these homes down ourselves, and truthfully, we wish that many of these homes weren't torn down at all. Our thoughts on Nashville's growth, how we source our wood, and the environmental implications of it all are big and complicated, but recently, we decided that we'd like to begin to share them with you.
The word "sustainability" has been popping up more and more in recent years, and it's a tricky one to navigate, because it's easy to make a business sound more sustainable than it really is. While many people use the word "sustainable" to mean eco-friendly, recycled, or something similar (and that's not necessarily wrong), the word actually refers to creating an ecological balance between humans and the environment, specifically in a long-term, sustainable way that continues through each cycle of a product or business.
When we first started 1767, we just needed a coffee table, so we built one.
We needed wood, so we accepted some from a neighbor who was tearing down a house.
It was very natural and easy — and sustainable, in the same way that our grandparents reused jars or we wore hand-me-down clothes as kids. Years later, as our business has grown substantially and there are many more moving parts involved with each decision, this is the one thing we've held on to: that we will always find it more beneficial to rescue the wood from these historic homes than to simply allow it to go to a landfill.
Today, when a homeowner or developer is tearing down or renovating a house or building, we'll contact them to see if we can come in and rip out the lath (the slim, wooden boards found behind the walls in older homes). We do this before the home is fully demolished; if we didn't, the lath would remain in the home and get scooped up and thrown away with the rest of the debris.
Over the years, we've rescued the wood from more than 75 historic homes and structures. This is wood that was once chosen for its strength and its quality, and it was used in building structures that were made to last. Even after the home is demolished, we hope that by saving the wood, we can preserve a piece of it in a new way.
There's something to be said about creating art from something that would otherwise be forgotten — this is something we've always known, and perhaps the thing we're the most proud of. This is, to us, the most sustainable idea behind our business: that by sourcing wood (a material that we could otherwise buy from a home improvement store or lumber yard) from, essentially, a dumpster, then creating something beautiful and thoughtful, we're extending its lifespan not just by one use, but by generations. These homes were built, lived in and valued for generations; it is our biggest hope that our wall art and furniture pieces will also be valued for just as long.
"Buildings like that will never happen again; people are never going to build that way again. To take a piece of that, to save it, and to do something else with it — to apply those same principles that were initially applied to the building or structure when it was built — that's really special to me."
-1767 Founder Patrick Hayes
We're learning more and more about sustainability each day, and it's something we're always trying to improve in our business. Follow along with the 1767 blog and sign up for our emails in the footer for updates about our sustainability practices.