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Our History

This finely hand carved wooden Eagle was gifted to Monteath by one of our customers and is proudly displayed above the store office.

 

MONTEATH'S HISTORY

 

 

America's Strangest Lumberyard by Joe Alex Morris, reprinted from The Saturday Evening Post magazine, copyright 1952 Saturday Evening Post Society.  Used with permission.

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1860 - In the 1850's a young Scotsman, John H. Monteath, traveled through Africa, Central and South America and  the West Indies seeking exotic hardwoods for the English furniture industry.  By 1856 John Monteath had established a business on New York's White Street distributing tropical hardwood logs to immigrant European craftsmen. The trade known in Lower Manhattan as the "Stickwood  Business" flourished for several decades.

1880 - As construction activity increased late in the century, foreign and domestic sawmills provided an abundance of fine African and West Indian Mahogany and Brazilian Rosewood along with American Walnut, Cherry and Oak. Monteath's business grew and a warehouse was opened in Brooklyn.  "Precious Woods", namely Snakewood, Tulipwood, Satinwood, and Ebony were in great demand by the furniture and  musical instrument industries.

1890 - With the beginning of the new century, Monteath expanded into new quarters along Lewis Street at 5th. The company would remain on Lewis Street until its move to the Bronx, some fifty years later.

1900 - John Monteath passed away in 1901. With the business then being managed by nephew Harry Dayton, Monteath remained in lower Manhattan supplying exotics along with native hardwoods for many new buildings constructed along Wall Street; New York's growing enter of finance and commerce. A new sawmill began producing lumber and dimension stock in Old Bridge, New Jersey.

1920 - Harry Dayton's sons Monteath T. and George H. joined the company and expanded the hardwood lumber and veneer business. The company continued to supply fine woods for store and office interiors, flying clippers and musical instruments.

  1940 - Monteath's knowledge of tropical hardwood sources helped the defense effort by securing large quantities of  Teak, Balsa and Lignum Vitae for Naval ships.  Postwar urban renewal projects forced Monteath to move to a new location in the Bronx.

1950 - The huge demand for Mahogany and other tropical hardwoods extended most importers resources in an effort to satisfy the rapidly growing furniture industry. The J. H. Monteath Company was featured in a 1952 Saturday Evening Post article - "America's Strangest Lumberyard."  There for the first time it was publicly revealed that prior to World War II, Monteath "Monty" T. Dayton, being concerned that large orders for valuable Circassian Walnut were not being shipped from Russia, sensed the Soviets were manufacturing gunstocks for rearmament.  He quietly passed word on to Washington.

1960 - By the early 1960's the metropolitan office building boom, the emergence of specialized office planning firms and the rapid growth of the contract furniture  industry created a great demand for "Architectural" veneer. Monteath sought new European sources and established a plywood division.  The company offices were completely renovated and a new showroom was constructed.

1980 - Expansion of the pre-existing of Moulding and Millwork facility in Old Bridge, New Jersey allows Monteath to further satisfy the needs of its customers by streamlining production of advance ordered mouldings and allied millwork products

1990 - Responding to growing demand, for the first time in its history, the Monteath company opens it doors to the public by commencing retail sales, on a walk-in basis, in the warehouse store. Customers can now personally hand  select domestic and exotic lumber, plywood, and mouldings. Looking toward the future, the Monteath tradition remains the same as it has been since the company's founding in 1856...

"If you use wood,

Monteath has a wood for you to use."

 

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