By Kristy Woodson Harvey

Published on February 3, 2015

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Photography by Lindsay Corrigan

Burying copper in the ground might seem like an unusual first step for making one-of-a-kind furniture. And a screen-printing shop that specializes in collegiate apparel might not seem like the ideal location for an art gallery. But when Ben Harper and his wife Katherine moved to Kinston, NC with their son and daughter, “conventional” wasn’t necessarily what they were after.

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Photography by Lindsay Corrigan

Harper had built a successful screen-printing business but always dreamed of woodworking. “My life just didn’t allow the time for it,” Harper said. “Part of the move to Kinston was a chance for a reset for my career.”

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Photography by Lindsay Corrigan

And reset Harper did, primarily by creating Venerable Bench, a furniture line that is completely handmade using the best types of wood Harper can find – which currently includes cypress cut in 1951 by Foster Williams lumber yard in Eagle Springs in Pinehurst. “You can’t cut cypress any longer in the state of North Carolina if it’s within 500 feet of water,” 

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Photography by Lindsay Corrigan

Harper said. And, since pretty much all cypress grows near water, “it’s truly a rare product.” Harper only lightly mills the cypress “so that the history of the wood sitting in that shed is still there.”
Pair that with American steel for a unique product sourced completely from North Carolina.