Pullman Couch Co. Building

Chicago, Illinois
1906 - 2013

The Chicago Ice Fire

The Pullman Couch Co. was an offshoot of the Pullman Rail Car Company, making their convertible sleeper sofas, called Davenports, for American’s homes between 1910-1950 in their Chicago factory.  A 1923 ad for the Pullman Davenport states, “with a Pullman in the living room, the extra bedroom is permanently solved”.

In January 2013, the historic Pullman Couch Co. warehouse caught fire, located near 38th and Ashland in Chicago. The building endured one of the worst fires Chicago had seen, commanding over 200 firefighters to tame it. The building was considered a total loss with the wood timber interior ravaged and its brick walls coated with layers of ice from the firefighting efforts and 10 degree temps.  Known as the Chicago Ice Fire, there are incredible photos of the entire building cased in ice after firefighters extinguished the flames.

Through our wood supplier, Kyle, we were able to secure a number of thick 3” x 8” Heart Pine wood joists in 2017.  Luckily they were not significantly damaged from the fire, although sometimes charred wood makes the best wood.

As this wood was delivered to our lumber yard, I noticed a number of pieces were branded with “Bogalusa”.  Understanding the historical significance of our reclaimed wood is important to me, the story is sometimes just as important as the wood.  Could I possibly trace the origin of the wood?  Yes!

The mark “Bogalusa” represented where the wood was milled, in Bogalusa, Louisiana.  The sawmill belonged to the Great Southern Lumber Company, the site of the world’s largest sawmill from 1908-1938.  The mill harvested only virgin longleaf pine in Louisiana and Mississippi and continued operation until the forests were depleted.  Based upon research and inspection of the wood, conservatively it is probably over 250 years old.  

I love being able to trace the history of our reclaimed wood.  These wood joists from the Pullman warehouse originated from a Louisiana sawmill.  The wood was milled in the early 1900s from trees that were over 150 years old at the time! 

Now, how can I pay homage to Pullman, maybe reclaimed wood convertible sleeper sofas?

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