What is Antique Heart Pine?
Antique Heart Pine is a type of wood that is only available through the careful reclaiming process where old pine is gathered from demolished buildings and re-milled into beams, flooring, cabinet stock and other architectural details. As a result, Antique Heart Pine is 100% FSC Certified Recycled and eligible for LEED Credits.
Early American Heart Pine History
Antique Heart Pine began as a Longleaf Pine tree that grew over 500 years ago. Part of the original forests of Southern Louisiana, these giant trees spotted the landscape and grew to incredible heights. These original forests were named virgin forest because they had never been cleared out or cut down by humans. One of the few remaining virgin Longleaf Pine trees is 471 years old and is part of the Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve in Greensboro, NC.
471 years makes this tree 60 years old at the time of the settlement of Jameston, and as America grew, so did the demand for Longleaf Heart pine. It is estimated that the virgin Longleaf pine forests once covered over 90 million acres and was used for ship building and the construction of early historic homes.
Prized for its long lengths and straight tree trunks it has a strength and durability that is unmatched by other wood of the era. An example of old world ship building is the reproduction of the Godspeed. Built in 1985 to commemorate the founding of Jamestown, Va and the ship masts are Longleaf Heart Pine.
The Godspeed, a reproduction 17th century ship, arrived April 19, 1985 in London at St. Katherine’s Docks within the shadow of the famous Tower Bridge. Courtesy of Allan Libby Source
Valued by early American settlers for it’s hardness from heart wood, strength, and natural golden red color there was a large demand as it was the preferred building material by woodworkers and builders. Especially true in Southern Louisiana which became a pine wood production center in the 1700s.
Pine log cabins were the first structures built from heart pine. Longleaf heart pine was also used for log cabin flooring, porches and as ship-lap siding to provide additional protection from the elements.
In the construction of these log cabins, heart pine was utilized for framing and support. Key to construction where strength and for logs to be true and free of warping are of great importance.
From wood flooring to heart pine cabinets every part of a cabin could be constructed from the versatile Longleaf Pine. It’s natural resistance to pest damage was one of the many benefits of choosing heart pine for the exterior wood siding for these early dwellings.
Heart Pine during the American Revolution
As the log cabins of colonial America gave way to larger estate homes and industrial buildings, the demand for Heart Pine increased. Not just for structural beams, but also copious amounts of heart pine flooring and fine architectural details such as crown molding and wainscotting. Two examples are the historic homes of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Both Washington’s Mount Vernon and Jefferson’s Montecello made wonderful use of heart pine flooring throughout the home.
Built in 1772, the main gallery of Jefferson’s Monticello is a great example of the popularity of heart pine during the American Revolution. A testament to its enduring quality and good looks, the original Antique Heart Pine flooring is in excellent historic condition. Source
Heart Pine Secures Key Allied Victory in WWII
Heart Pine beams was the structural steel i-beam of its time. Durable and straight the Longleaf pine tree saw a staggering demand throughout the industrial revolution which increased 10 fold for the American war efforts of the 1940s. Used as the head log which tied the bows together to the vessel Antique Heart Pine was used for over 20,000 landing craft built by Higgins Industries in New Orleans, LA.
Eisenhower proclaimed the Higgins Boat LCVP as “the boat that won the war.” Over 20,000 of these ships were constructed primarily out of Antique Heart Pine at Higgins Industries in New Orleans, LA. Source