05 Sep A Passion for History
Although progress has obstructed the view, the proximity remains the same between the old Harris property and the Downtown Christian Church.
Two mainstays that are woven into the historic fabric of Johnson City, TN.Even after 120 years, the Maple Street plant was destined to produce fine hardwood flooring. Established in 1898, the Harris Manufacturing Company initially manufactured wooden products like plow handles, golf club shafts, and wagon wheel rims, before turning their focus to strip flooring in 1908 and becoming one of the largest producers of hardwood flooring in the world. They eventually added BondWood, a parquet flooring manufactured under Swiss license, to their product line. BondWood and plank flooring were the primary products for years to follow. In 1983, the firm was sold to the Swedish Match company, who merged it with the Swedish flooring company, Tarkett AB to form Harris-Tarkett. Over the next few decades, the company did change hands, but continued to produce flooring, until operations were finally moved to another location in Johnson City. After sitting vacant for a couple years, the fate of the property was questionable…until Steve McKinney, a native of Johnson City learned that the historic plant was available. Steve’s passion for History, coupled with his deep respect for God’s creation is what gave life to his company, Historic Flooring. He started the company in 2007, working out of his garage, and a spare bedroom he used as an office. He eventually leased a small property on Princeton Road, but quickly outgrew that too. In 2012, he took a leap of faith, and acquired the property.
“Bringing new life to old wood is what drives the company, and to be able to do it in this historic setting is truly inspiring.”Little by little, Historic Flooring has amassed over 250,000 sq. ft. of reclaimed wood from old barns and other structures, along with entire historic cabins…all with their own stories to tell. It’s interesting to watch Steve work. If you tour the property with him, you may want to bring a notepad…he will walk you past pallet upon pallet of old wood, all the while elaborating on the history of each one. He knows where it came from, how old it is, and sometimes even knows the family history all the way back to when the original structure was built! Steve’s passion doesn’t stop at the history of the wood. He has a creative spirit and finds a unique personality trait in each plank of wood that eventually lives in the homes of his customers. If there’s a crack, he thinks “butterfly peg”, a hole becomes a trinket holder, a knot gets filled with acrylic to show it off…these anomalies, when seen by anyone else, may have been discarded instead of being transformed into works of art! It’s no wonder people all over the country are ringing Steve’s phone off the hook! Movie stars, Country singers, restaurateurs, even museum displays are using Historic Flooring’s custom wood flooring and barnwood! Many repeat clients from Brooklyn, New York to Napa Valley, California and everywhere in between continue to enjoy the beauty, uniqueness and history of reclaimed wood in their residential and commercial projects.