It takes a talented craftsman to take pieces of furniture near the end of their life and turn them into beautiful, functioning pieces again. And that is what Dennis Norman is so good at. You might not have seen him or his workshop before, but you've undoubtedly seen his work. At Madison Street Salvage, many donated tables, chests, cabinets, and dressers need a little TLC before they hit the floor to be sold. In the back of the former historic McCarty's Bakery, Dennis has set up a shop using all of the woodworking and craftsman tools he has gathered throughout his life. Here, he works his magic and gives love to the pieces donated to the store in need of a refresh.
Dennis' furniture graces homes throughout Franklin and beyond, going as far as New York City. When I visited him in the shop, multiple projects were in the works, including a new window crafted out of donated glass. He pointed out a dresser that was missing a drawer and painted a worn baby blue which had come in with a note saying "needs a little love."
I sat down with Dennis to learn more about his passion and the vintage furniture he gets to work with at Madison Street Salvage.
Q: What kind of work do you do for Madison Street Salvage?
A: I have a wide variety of work I do for Madison Street Salvage (MSS). The following is an example of some of the things I do. I repair many types of furniture, replace glass in broken windows, rescreen windows, create unusual pieces of furniture per customers requests, refinish small pieces of furniture, and modify doors and windows, just to name a few.
Q: What is your favorite part about your work at MSS?
A: The work I do at MSS is interesting, challenging, and fun. Also meeting the different customers and working with each one.
Q: What has been your favorite project to work on?
A: Building a china cabinet out of salvaged components and new materials. This cabinet sold very quickly. The customer who bought it took it back to their home in the Bronx, New York.
Q: Madison Street Salvage gets so many interesting pieces of furniture and other items. Have you had a favorite?
A: Probably my most favorite would be converting a built-in china cabinet into a stand-alone china cabinet. The customer actually brought a section of their kitchen/dining room wall into MSS and asked if I could make the cabinet a stand-alone cabinet. This was a very interesting project. The cabinet ended up looking very original.
Q: What is your favorite drink and snack at the concession stand when visiting the Artcraft?
A: When visiting the Artcraft, my favorite drink is Diet Coke and my favorite snack is buttered pop-corn. These are hard to beat!
Q: What is your favorite movie?
A: It’s hard to pick a favorite movie with all the great movies shown at the Artcraft. But I would have to pick American Graffiti. This movie reminds me of my youth and growing up in the 50’s and 60’s.
Dennis Norman is available by appointment only, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Megan Elaine is a writer and storyteller who lives in Franklin, IN.