The good in Urban Wood Goods. Looking to the past to sustain our future.
At Urban Wood Goods, we ethically center all of our actions on the belief that the past importantly sustains our present and future. Sustainability is the driving force that guides all aspects of our business from lumber sourcing and design, to manufacturing efficiencies and innovation. We do this to protect and restore our environment, create economic value, and support and strengthen our community by inspiring others.
There’s a lot of good about our reclaimed woods.
As profound advocates for sustainability practices, and as designers and artisans, we are thrilled by the rescue of old-growth woods from Midwestern urban structures that have outlived their time. It is our privilege to reclaim these rare woods, originally harvested in the late 1800s and early 1900s—their history still beautifully alive with character in the visible knots, cracks and tight wood grain—and to reimagine them as modern furnishings for a next generation to dwell with, to appreciate, to share in the wood’s continuing story.
It’s not just the beauty earned over time that sustains our passion for reclaimed wood. It’s also the superior structural integrity. Old-growth trees harvested at the turn of the 19th century grew more slowly in denser forests, challenged for sunlight and water. These conditions are evidenced in the grain with age rings closer together, making it harder, stronger and of higher quality than most newly harvested timber.
We don’t just see the trees. We see the forest.
Our new furniture is built from old buildings being “unbuilt.” The greatest challenge in our pursuit of reclaimed wood is being present in the moment when structures are being deconstructed piece by piece in the reverse order of their original construction, often dating a century or more prior. Urban Wood Goods has established decade-long relationships with contractors who specialize in deconstruction, giving us priority access to rare and unique woods from buildings of historic interest as they are being carefully disassembled. The antithesis of deconstruction is demolition, typically the wrecking-ball reduction of buildings to rubble. Demos do not save, reuse or recycle materials—in fact, 30 million tons of wood from building demolition sites are disposed in landfills each year.
Importantly, keeping these irreplacable woods in circulation rather than landfills or wood burns reduces deforestation, helping to conserve wildlife, slow climate change and increase access to clean drinking water. In turn, your responsible consideration and purchase of our reclaimed wood furniture for your business or home actively help to protect the earth’s forests for future generations.
Sustainability, top to bottom.
While our mission is to preserve the inherent equity and appreciation of these valuable timbers, there is so much more good to share in our sustainability efforts. Limiting our pursuit of reclaimed wood to urban Midwest sites within 100 miles of our workshop reduces our carbon footprint at the same time eliminating any contribution on our part to deforestation and landfills. We use only eco-friendly, water-based stains with low-to-zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and the dual-care topcoat we specify is a clear, formaldehyde-free, commercial-grade UV finish. Supporting each reclaimed wood top is a sculptural, hand-welded base of recycled, industrial steel made in the USA.
Dining table, 2020.
Wood, circa 1900.
There’s a lot of history in the 120 years in between.
U LTD Historic Woods
Our founder, Erin True, has a thing for adopting and adapting old woods from notably historic buildings in the deconstruction phase of adaptive reuse. These have included the Fox Theater in Stevens Point, WI (1894; National Historic Register of Places), the Bethany Presbyterian Church in Chicago, IL (1900; Logan Boulevards Historic District), the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company Factory in Chicago, IL (1911; Central Manufacturing District), the Pabst Brewery in Milwaukee, WI (1844; historic downtown), the Pullman Couch Co. in Chicago, IL (1911; Central Manufacturing District), the Orpheum Theater in Chicago, IL (1907; State Street “Loop” District), the Berywn Hotel in Chicago, IL (1922;) and many others over the past de- cade. When available, these woods are very limited in quantity for custom orders and include documentation of their storied past. We suggest checking in with us often to see what Historic Woods Erin has been turning up in the Midwest.SHOP NOW