Brothers and sisters, I have a testimony for you today!
I have seen the maker’s book!
I have touched it’s pages!
I have glimpsed it’s hidden wisdom!
And what I saw was good!
I refer to that local, lesser-known “good book”, the Bilt-Well Millwork Catalog #40 of the Carr-Cullen Company of Minneapolis. Local millwork company, A&A Millwork, has a copy of this treasure trove from the city’s bungalow era which they use to reproduce historically accurate doors, mouldings and the like. I stopped by A&A on Saturday to refresh myself with their product and prices for wood combination storm/screen windows, and interior “wunder” doors matching those on the main floor of our bungalow. In describing the authenticity of their products, the clerk at A&A mentioned how an old-timer passed down “the book” to them, and she offered to show it to me.
I only got a chance to skim through the 350 pages between the embossed leather covers, but it made a big impression. More than moulding profiles and door designs, the Bilt-Well catalog showed full-color views of rooms, some including furnishings and fixtures as well. It was the best, most locally-specific restoration resource I’ve seen. Before I handed the catalog back to the clerk, I made sure I had memorized the title details so I could look for a copy to review at my leisure.
When I got home I tried looking for the catalog or any of its content online. The best online content I could find was at Antique Home, where there is a very nice partial online catalog of Bilt-Well #40, as well as some other great resources. As useful as that site is, it’s still no substitute for the real leather-bound beauty. So I’m keeping my eyes open at rare book stores for a catalog of my own. Say a prayer it works out. Amen!
Update April 3, 2007
Since I wrote this post, I have learned that Bilt-Well was a national millwork brand carried by many companies around the country. Carr-Cullen in Minneapolis was just one company to use the Bilt-Well brand, not the sole owner of that brand as I formerly believed.