About Us

Our Approach

Our sales pitch begins with a few scathing word about the evils of deforestation.
It ends with – “So … wanna buy some timbers?”
We are a group of tree lovers who founded a company that sells mantels, timbers and fine wood furnishings. On the surface, it may reek of hypocrisy. But allow us to defend our good name. We’re Old Growth Woods and Mendota Mantels. The mission of our company is quite simple. To reclaim old growth lumbers from structures that are beyond repair and make it available to home owners, builders, designers, artisans, and architects. In addition, we also use it to build our own line of Mendota Mantels and furnishings.
Why reclaim antique timber? The environmental benefits are obvious. Our nation’s remaining old growth forests must be preserved. Only about 6% now remain. Recycling timber is a step in the right direction. It’s also a great way to support sustainability in your community. As a raw material, more and more people are discovering the beauty of working with this rare, aged old growth. Simply put, wood like this doesn’t grow on trees anymore. Each board is extremely dense and contains less moisture than new wood. Years of open- air aging have given it a quality green lumber simply can’t match. Often harvested over 100 years ago, the surfaces of our wood bear rich hues, nail holes, and have been distressed by decades in the elements. But don’t get us wrong, it cleans up beautifully.
Tables made from boards reclaimed from a small Iowa Church built in 1890 become living room tables. A little bit of the church lives on in each piece. And that’s the key to our vision. A beam from a flour mill becomes a fireplace mantel. Timbers from an old barn are used to build the interior of a pub. And the fact that all of it has the story of pre-industrial America woven into its grain, makes it just a little more special.

Meet the Artisans

OLD GROWTH WOODS & MENDOTA MANTELS ARE HAND MADE ON THE SOUTH SHORE OF BEAUTIFUL LAKE SUPERIOR, IN THE UPPER PENINSULA OF MICHIGAN, USA.

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Tom Schoeller

Founder & CEO

This is Tom making a mantel with the off-grid home he built from reclaimed materials on the shore of Lake Superior.

Tom Schoeller
After practicing social work for 32 years, Tom decided to expand his love of trees, art, history, environmental advocacy, and housing into one new love - a  business  hand making fireplace mantels out of reclaimed antique  and aged timbers.  He's been at it now since 1999 and says "it's the perfect business for me to combine the things I'm most passionate about into one fun job". " I never grow tired working with my hands making beautiful fireplace mantels from what I call 'sacred wood'. That's pretty darn cool....!".  "After almost 20 years doing this,  I still think I get a bigger kick out of it then even my most enthusiastic customers ."  
After living in St. Paul, MN for most his life, he recently moved to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan on the South Shore of Lake Superior into an "off the grid / green" home and shop he built out of mostly reclaimed materials.  
He still travels to The Twin Cities regularly to visit family and friends and of course, to deliver mantels.   
Tom says, "This present 2020 line of fifty! mantels is the biggest and best show I've ever presented at one time".  The mantels are divided into two lines. Old Growth Wood Mantels and Mendota Mantels.  OGW Mantels are pieces made from historic antique reclaimed timbers.  MM are pieces made from air aged newer timbers.  "My intention for this show is to present a wide variety of prices and eclectic styles, from refined to rustic that showcase both the unique quality of the material and the best workmanship I can produce".
Enjoy this 2020 show of our latest new mantels! 
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My  Woodshop Student Team

(L - R)
Shane Lynch, Chandler Walowinski,
(Kneeling) instructor, Roger Peterson, me,
Ross Niemi, Branson Williams

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Cody Ratkowski
Northwoods Manufacturing Student

Northwoods Manufacturing

Northwoods Manufacturing is a student run business ran out of the Hurley High schools technology education department. Northwoods Manufacuring began with a vision, a vision of creativity, student learning, and technological education. In Northwoods Manufacturing we teach our students how to develop a good work ethic, how to produce manufactured products from metal and wood, and we encourage them to propel themselves into our country's skilled labor gaps.

Tom serves as a mentor at the local high school wood shop program.  He helps to teach the students who in- turn help him make some of our Old Growth Wood and Mendota Mantels. Here’s a picture of his super fantastic student team and their amazing Instructor.  Shown here with some of their finest work.
Tom says, I love NorthWoods Manufacturing! I couldn’t do this without them!”

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Dan Guion

Artisan

Dan Guion

Dan is an consummate artist. He can work creatively in most any media! (including music btw)

He made mantels for us for about seven years. Some of the best darn pieces we've ever produced. Yes. He's the real deal. His creativity and workmanship is second to none. Yes. Fortunately for him, but unfortunately for us, Dan has moved on to wider (and more profitable!) shores. We sure miss him here in the shop. Although he hasn't' been involved in this 2020 show, his "out of the box" mantel designs, his workmanship integrity, and his down right creativity and attention to detail continue to inspire us now and forever.

So.....for this reason, we're including him in our "About Us".

Because even though he's not around the shop anymore, his cool spirit is. We try to replicate his mellow and creative workmanship as best we can. Not an easy task. An on-going goal.

Who knows, maybe one day we can talk him into making just a few more pieces...?! (But, too bad for our customers, I'd have to charge twice the price cause he's worth it)

Next Steps...

See how our mantels can transform your living space.  Browse our site and contact us if you have any questions.