In 1926, in the small town of Lenoir, North Carolina, a man of humble beginnings founded a small chair manufacturing company. That man, James Edgar Broyhill, turned that small business into a furniture empire that today exists as one of the largest furniture brands in the industry.
Four generations later, on a Sunday afternoon, James Thomas Broyhill II was tinkering in the workshop attached to his home in Charlotte, North Carolina. An old Jack Daniel’s barrel sat amongst the sawdust, camouflage waders, shotgun shells and various bits of nostalgia. Curious to see how the wood staves fit together, James began hammering off the galvanized iron hoops from aroud the belly of that barrel. With the basic knowledge of woodworking taught to him by his maternal grandfather, he constructed his first piece of furniture.
According to the Winston Salem, NC native, “The inspiration behind the first whiskey barrel creation developed out of a personal challenge to create something aesthetically pleasing from something of true character. This was a one-time weekend project that I intended to display in the house and show off to friends and family. I had no idea what would come of it.”
The character of his unique pieces reflect the depth of his medium. Whiskey barrels are traditionally constructed of American White Oak and the interiors are charred to create the distinct, rich taste of the liquid aged within its staves. The aged wood is sturdy and strong. James later introduced the use of Cabernet Sauvignon barrels for their distinct coloring and stain. Both of which carry a rich history in the production of the contents aged within them.
The barrels, according to James, “Provide a great medium for creating furniture and the appearance of the aged wood is what really brings the pieces to life.”
As James has perfected his craft he has added to the collection, which now includes more sophisticated chair designs, benches, sinks, light fixtures and unique accessories.
“While I am proud to carry the Broyhill name, I am even more proud to carry on the tradition of creating unique furniture pieces out of wood,” James said.
In an age of mass-production and assembly line construction, James Broyhill is finding his place in a growing artisanal movement. While his craft pays homage to his bloodline, his authenticity and ingenuity are the soul of Heritage Handcrafted.