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Moscow's Old Wood Being Put to New Uses
Reclaimed lumber from Moscow Idaho Seed Company finds its way to California
By Tara Roberts
THE MOSCOW DAILY NEWS
March 17, 2008
About 1 million board feet of 80-year-old wood from the old Moscow Idaho
Seed Company plant is finding new life across the West.
Workers from Colfax-based demolition and salvage company LTCC have been
taking the plant apart piece by piece since January 2007, sorting out
the usable wood, removing nails and preparing it to ship to projects in
Montana, California, the Puget Sound area and more.
Project supervisor Robert Crook said 20-30 semi-truckloads of the wood
have left Moscow, along with several shipments to reclaimed wood
specialists Heritage Salvage of Petaluma, Calif.
"We salvage as much as we can, that way we don't have waste," said Chris
Mathia, son of LTCC owner Len Mathia.
Len Mathia said he was drawn into the reclaimed wood business after a
"I saw a building that the roof had caved in and I looked in there and
saw there was some really good wood in there for building, of all
things, a chicken coop," he said.
The building's owner asked him to tear down an old grain silo too, and
he ended up with more wood than he knew what to do with.
Len Mathia said there's a "tremendous amount of interest" in reclaimed
wood. Wood from the plant has been used in high-end flooring,
post-and-beam homes and small structure work.
Much of the wood is used outside of Idaho, he said, but a few local
people have built garages and shops with it. LTCC is looking to expand
its local market, especially for flooring.
Heritage Salvage owner Michael "Bug" Deakin said wood from Moscow has
been "recycled, reused and repurposed" into about 10 floors in the
Petaluma area, the interior of a large barn and apartment in Sonoma,
Calif., and a special project for singer/actor Tom Waits.
"(Waits) has put it in as flooring in his new recording studio, which is
in a 120-year-old schoolhouse he bought," Deakin said.
He said he donates lower-quality wood to schools to build raised garden
beds and compost boxes.
LTCC sells the wood for 45 cents to $1.50 a board foot, depending on the
quality of the wood and the intent of the buyer, Chris Mathia said.
Crook said some people were upset about the Moscow Idaho Seed Company
demolition when the project started because of the plant's history. The
plant, situated at the corner of Jackson and College streets, had been a
part of Moscow's skyline since the 1920s.
"Our argument was it's history, but why let it rot if you can reuse it?"
Crook said. "How much of our natural resources get destroyed by letting
it sit and rot?"
Chris Mathia said some people who worked at the plant have stopped by to
check out the demolition work and learn about the reclamation project.
The plant site is owned by B&G Enterprises of Moscow, which purchased it
from Brocke and Sons of Kendrick a few years ago. The plant operated as
Moscow Idaho Seed Company until Brocke purchased it in the 1980s.
Dean Brocke, manager of Brocke and Sons, said the plant processed split
peas from the late 1920s, when it was built, until June 2006. He said
it's wonderful that wood from the plant is being reused.
Deakin said he gives a framed Moscow Idaho Seed Company bag and a
picture of the plant to people who build homes and barns using the
"The deal is I named my company Heritage Salvage because I'm really into
salvaging the heritage of these buildings," Deakin said.