Project has lots of timber loving care
BASALT – Mike Peppers is an ambassador of seasoned wood.Especially when the timber is of the century-old variety.The Glenwood Springs builder is managing a timber-framing project in the Holland Hills subdivision using post and beams from an Illinois barn built in 1868.”This is a timber-framer’s dream,” said Peppers’ wife of 25 years, Karen, who co-owns Mika Construction with her husband. “This is what timber framers live for.”Getting timber from an Illinois barn to Basalt wasn’t easy.In August, the barn wood timbers, siding and flooring were transported cross country via two semi-truck trailers to build artist Kris Cox’s 3,500-square-foot home.”It was all numbered and labeled by the people who disassembled it,” said Mike, who said he has worked on countless timber projects in his 26-year career. “If they hadn’t, it would have been like pick-up sticks.”The Pepperses, who have been building timber-frame homes since 1985, are as excited as a carpenter with a new set of power tools about the project.”One hundred years ago this year, the structure was built. It was a barn, now it’s going to be a home,” said Mike, with the drawl of a true Oklahoma native. The project has Peppers’ love of old timber bubbling to the top.”It’s the real McCoy. You can see oak pegs,” he said about the 100-year-old timber.Old-time buildingHis breath dissipating into the cold air Tuesday, Mike spoke of the long timber-framing history that makes this particular build special. The more he talks about the history of the projects he’s worked on, the more excited he becomes.”In England, there are timber frames from the 1600s still standing,” Mike said. “It’s old – you’re looking at stuff people did 100 years ago. This all came from England, when the pilgrims came over. It was their heritage. Your great-great-grandfather may have been doing this back in Indiana or Illinois.”Mike said he and his wife were trained in Montana, where they learned to build timber-frame homes using skill saws, chisels and mallets.”That’s the old-fashioned way,” said Mike, whose 26-year-old son, Eddie, also works in the Pepperses’ timber-frame shop in West Glenwood. “We still do that today.”Solid ideaKris Cox, a professional abstract artist of 25 years, specializes in constructed paintings and has a studio in Aspen. He said he first entertained the concept of living in a timber-frame barn home after his girlfriend suggested it. Then the process was all about merging the modern world with the old. Long before Peppers could put his chisels and mallets to use, Cox went to work hammering on the computer keyboard.”I found this particular barn online. I searched for barns at vintagebarns.com. I flew out to Chicago to look at it before they deconstructed it,” said Cox, a southern California native. Cox’s new home will not only have an Illinois touch, but an international flavor as well.”I know they brought the logs down from Canada and brought them across Lake Michigan and pulled them to Illinois by horses on a sled to the farm,” he said.Cox said he plans to use part of the historic structure-turned two-bedroom, two-bathroom home as a studio for painting. He said 95 percent of the windows, doors and skylights are from a home in Owl Creek near Aspen that is being remodeled, a recycling concept he takes to heart.”There’s quite a bit of recycling. They saved all the mortise and tenons (joints) and the pegs without drilling them. The flooring is going to be made from the joists and all the wall posts are exposed. It makes it a dramatic space,” Cox said. “I like the idea of recycling this beautiful, handmade building. It’s all real. It has a quality one can only have by taking something that is already built.”The home’s exterior will feature the barn’s original wood paneling and a corrugated metal roof. Cox described the interior as loft-like modern with a granite fireplace and hearth.”It’s going to be a cool house,” said Mike, who plans to finish the job by June. “We salvaged all the siding and floor joints. There’s not a lot of interior walls. The ceilings are all open, and there’s no second floor.”As part of a timber-framing tradition, foreman Ramiro Mendoza climbed to the top of the home’s highest ridge and placed a pine bough with a metallic red ribbon as the Pepperses and the crew cheered.Karen proudly took photos as a message was nailed to the home’s timber frame. The message read: “May there be peace on Earth and love in your home.”That’s peace and love 137 years in the making and a journey of more than a thousand miles.Contact April E. Clark: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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