The recent flood is just one reminder for Mike and Margie Greenwell that it has taken a lot of work and perseverance to remain alive in Clarksville.
The couple started Greenwell Fine Furniture 30 years ago from their shed with a wood stove in Eolia and have been on Second Street (Hwy. 79) in Clarksville since 1989.
“We needed the space and visibility and heating and cooling,” Mike said recently.
“I’d never been so happy to have a thermostat,” Margie said.
The custom furniture making, millwork and repair shop has thrived through the years through word of mouth and people who wander in from all over the world.
“We’ve had people in here from England, Japan, California, Florida, Texas and New York,” Margie said. “It’s people who happen along the highway or friends of people we did work for.
“Most people don’t know there are still people out there like me,” Mike said. “They’re getting fewer and fewer. People call and say ‘We’ve got lumber and we want you to make a table for us,” or anything else made out of wood.
Mike concentrates on the design and making of custom furniture, while Margie sands and carves wood for those pieces and repairs others.
“I repair a lot of chairs,” Margie said. “Bring them in before you break them.”
One repair-restoration was a wooden mirror frame that had plaster on it. The Greenwells restored the piece for a family that had handed it down for many years.
Sentimental value figures in to many repairs, Mike said.
“A lot of times it means a lot to the person but it’s not really worth a lot,” he added.
“Quality,” is why the Greenwells stay in business,” Mike said. “You’ve got to match the wood, color and paint.”
“And we have repeat customers from 15 years ago,” Margie said.
“A lot of people don’t care less about furniture but a lot of people want quality stuff,” Mike said.
Mike Greenwell learned to work with wood in shop class growing up. He made a gun cabinet when he was 16 years old and eventually became a union carpenter in St. Louis. He was also an iron worker and welder.
“I did this on the side,” Mike said. He went full-time with their move to Eolia in 1989.
“I just like doing it. It’s what I do. I like making things,” Mike said. Much of it is done on the double lathe his grandfather John Bradley bought in 1937.
The things the Greenwells make out of wood go way beyond furniture.
“We put a floor in a boat at Mark Twain Lake last year,” Mike said. “We hauled the equipment and material by our boat to his boat. Otherwise, we would have had to walk a quarter mile from the parking lot.”
They’ve done landing struts for airplanes, and even a cover for a barge radar system.
“Mike jumped on the barge when it was in the locks here and got measurements,” Margie said. “When they came back through, he jumped back on and installed it.”
The Greenwells have created stagecoach doors, solid mahogany doors, kitchens, brake handles for old cars, Christmas ornaments, staircases and windows.
“Anything made out of wood,” Mike said.
“We did a roll-top desk one time that came in boxes,” Mike said. “But we had made 11 rolltops from scratch, so it was no big deal,” to fix.
When they aren’t working at the shop or putting up sandbags for yet another flood, the Greenwells still stay close to the water.
“We like to go fishing,” Margie said. “But we’ve been too busy this year.”
The Greenwell’s shop is at 110 S. Second St. in Clarksville. The phone number is 573-242-3771 and they are working on a website.