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New showroom

After a devasting fire, Bingham Lumber opens new Brookline showroom

Union Leader Correspondent

July 14. 2013 5:08PM

Walls of windows, salvaged from a Virginia factory, separate the new showroom at Bingham Lumber from the warehouse where reclaimed wood is sold. (NANCY BEAN FOSTER PHOTO)

BROOKLINE — Last fall, Tom and Rebekah Bingham stood helplessly by as the showroom for their company burned, but eight months later, Bingham Lumber has a spacious new building that showcases the reclaimed wood that has become their specialty.

On the evening of Nov. 2, a three-alarm fire began in the wood shop attached to the back of the Bingham Lumber headquarters. In a short span of time, the building was fully engulfed in flames, which destroyed the showroom and the offices where the Bingham family ran their business. As luck would have it, one of the first responders on the scene, Assistant Fire Chief Scott Knowles, also worked part time for the lumber company and knew that the family's dog, Hadley, was in the office. Knowles was able to save the dog, but the building was a total loss.

Over the course of the past eight months, in frigid weather and against a steady stream of the word "no" coming from people who didn't understand how persistent the Binghams could be, local contractors, friends, family, even large corporations like Public Service of New Hampshire pitched in and made the new showroom happen, said Tom Bingham, who has owned the company he bought from his father for 13 years.

"It's amazing to see what you can get accomplished when everybody buys in and has a can-do attitude," Bingham said.

The company's 28 employees have worked tirelessly to keep the business afloat, moving the offices into one of the warehouses, and building a woodworking shop in another while construction progressed on the main building.

And through it all, customers kept showing up.

"We're so grateful to them," Bingham said. "They came, they crawled over the mess to find what they were looking for, and they were so patient."

The Binghams have become known for their reclaimed lumber — siding and beams taken from old barns, dragged up from rivers, or salvaged from historic buildings. Their siding can be seen in Life is Good stores and at the local Starbuck's coffee shop, and their paneling was featured on "This Old House." Their custom furniture, made from the recycled timbers, has also drawn national attention.The fire, which was devastating, has led to some important changes, Bingham said. An extensive fire suppression system has been installed in the new building and will be expanded to some of the other buildings on the property. There is also a new alarm system.

The new building has also allowed the company to merge their warehouse with the showroom so that customers can work with designers to choose their flooring, paneling or furniture and then step through a door and be in the drive-through warehouse and actually pick the boards they want to use.

"It gives people a real sense of what they're buying," Bingham said.

Separating the showroom from the warehouse is a wall of windows, taken from an old factory in Virginia, and on the second floor of the building, each of the administrative offices is decorated with different samples of the wood sold at Bingham.

And the main part of the showroom is a replica of an old barn that appears to be in the process of being disassembled, giving people a sense of where the product came from. On the floors and walls are different types of wood, and samples showing the different milling and finishing techniques that can be used to create unique looks.

Bingham said the project has cost more than $2 million, and while there's still work to be done, the new building is technically open.

"We've been selling wood out of here for a few weeks, but it will be another month or so before we're totally finished. We'll have an open house in September," he said.

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