Nov 25, 2013



Don’t judge Tori Brown by her appearance. She may be small, but she’s in the shop lifting tabletops and ripping boards on the table saw with the rest of ‘em. A fresh and bright thinker, she brings an edge to APOC products by utilizing her design education and pushing new ideas.

Tori discovered APOC almost by accident. While she was attending the Cleveland Institute of Art (of which she is a recent grad from the Industrial Design program), some of her classmates were working there as interns. “I came here to pick one of them up, and was offered an internship position on the spot by [the late] PJ Doran.” She goes on to explain how they discussed her drawings and her interest in sustainability. “APOC practices sustainability by not only upcycling reclaimed material, but by using their material as efficiently as possible”

As a young designer, Tori enjoys working with the team here at APOC, saying it fosters a great learning environment. “My colleagues have been very open and supportive.”

Previously, Tori has had the opportunity to work at well known companies such as Nottingham-Spirk, and the toy company Hasbro, Inc. She says the knowledge and experience she gained at her internships is ‘invaluable’. “Every aspiring designer needs to apply for internships. Not only will you learn industry skills, but they will help you figure out exactly what kinds of products you want to design.”

Career wise, she says she couldn’t have asked for a better first job out of school. “I always wanted to be a furniture designer, and the boss lets me bring my dog to work.”

Typically, you will find Tori doing what she does best: designing. “I find myself sketching ideas and concepts daily.” If she’s not drawing up new ideas, you can find her on the floor milling wood for fabrication, making prototypes, assembling final pieces, sanding, spray finishing… she jumps in just about where ever she’s needed. 

Here’s a little more about Tori:

Personal interests: Gardening, Hiking, Oil Painting, Ceramics, Writing letters, Nutella

Her favorite tool in the shop: “It’s a tie between the metal detectors we use to search for nails in the wood, and the mini max table saw.”

Her favorite places in Cleveland: Lakeview Cemetery, Edison’s in Tremont, The West Side Market, and The Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Her favorite part of the upcycle/creation process: “When you don’t know what type of wood a board is, so someone rips an edge on the table saw or runs it through the planer and reveals glorious walnut or chestnut.”

Nov 20, 2013



Need 6 stain samples on the fly? Adam Smith is your man - well, APOC’s man. The in-house stain mixologist, he can match colors and knows how to make a table top glisten. Not only that, but he is a talented wood worker and is quick to identify problems within any fabrication process.

Hands on and energetic, Adam finds opportunity in his work. “[I like the] freedom to create furniture from locally sourced wood.” When asked what a typical day was like for him, he responded “There is now and have never been a typical day in the shop!” Adam is definitely kept on his toes, because his skills go beyond woodworking.

Besides working on the shop floor, Adam is the deconstruction specialist, which is how he got his start at APOC in the first place. “I attended a sustainability workshop and decided to volunteer for APOC. I then started on fulltime in 2008 after completing Cleveland’s first deconstruction project in Slavic Village.”

Since getting his start here, Adam has been involved in just about all the deconstruction projects through APOC. With a team, he goes into dilapidated houses around Cleveland scheduled for demolition, and pulls out usable and valuable materials. This is exactly what he loves about his job. “We work to keep housing stock out of the landfill. They’re not making this beautiful wood anymore!”

This is what he believes makes APOC unique. “We source the materials ourselves; like a restaurant with a garden out back.” 

With big projects and custom orders custom orders coming in, it can be a juggle in the shop with space and manpower. What keeps everything rolling? According to Adam: “Communication and teamwork!”

Here is a little more about Adam:

Personal interests:I enjoy reading and grouper sandwiches. I have a side gig shucking oysters for my friends' events. I do a lot of biking and I love being able to change Cleveland from the inside!”

His favorite tool in the shop: “The planer transforms painted, ugly wood into works of art.”

His favorite places in Cleveland: “Anywhere there’s a patio in the summer, and a fireplace in the winter.”

His favorite part of the upcycle/creation process: Cleaning off old pieces of lumber and revealing their true character

Sep 30, 2013

F*SHO 2013

F*SHO (Cleveland's premier contemporary furniture design showcase) was a big hit once again! This year marked the 5th Anniversary of the event, with great turn out and wonderful local artisans and designers. 

some attendees taking a look at APOC pieces

This year the event was hosted at Asian Town Center, which turned out to be a very intriguing venue. The space provided a nice backdrop for the mix of work that was on display. The Greenhouse Tavern provided excellent food & catering services.

local ceramicist Gina DeSantis displayed some of her work with APOC's purple heart dining table

This year, purple heart chopping blocks and end-grain chopping blocks were big sellers for us here at APOC. In addition, we had a purple heart dining table, benches, a wall installation, as well as new shelving designs. F*SHO has always provided a great way for people to check out our work.

Check out F*SHO here:

Apr 17, 2013

2620 E. 115th Street

Built in 1906

Single-family dwelling: four bedrooms, two bathrooms

The Place
Prior to the 1920s, most Italian immigrants lived in the Big Italy neighborhood, but conflict between other ethnicities in that area prompted some families to move to communities in other nearby areas of Cleveland. The neighborhood from which the wood for several pieces was one such enclave, the seventh of these offshoot communities.

Maintaining cultural and familial ties was of the utmost importance to Italians; many of the immigrants to Cleveland came from the same villages. Hometown societies, as well as strong church communities, allowed them to keep their heritage alive. Though many writers and historians choose to concentrate on linking Italian immigrants with organized crime, that lifestyle was much more anomalous than usual.

The People
John Ciarlillo was born in 1884 in what was recorded as Sangonni, Italy. Though reference to a village named Sangonni cannot be found, it is possible it refers to the Val Sangone, a valley in Piedmont, Italy, in the Turin province. He immigrated to the United States as a boy, in 1895.

In the 1930s and 1940s, Ciarlillo lived in the house at 2620 E. 115th Street with his wife, Philomena, and his  children, John Jr., Joe, Vincent, Gusty, Peter, and Marie. He was a janitor at Hawken School, which was  then a small private school that educated boys from kindergarten through ninth grade. He and his wife died on the same day in 1960. The cause of death is not clear. They are buried at Lake View Cemetery.

Jan 4, 2013

4107 Denison Ave.

4107 Denison
Built in 1853
2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom
1148 square feet
The People
Sherman Brainard, a farmer and descendant of one of the earliest settlers to Brooklyn Township, built the house on 100 acres in 1853. According to the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art, its foundation was created from stones found in the nearby river, and the timber-framed structure was also locally harvested, making it a true historical embodiment of Cleveland’s agrarian history in the mid-19th century.
In 1879, Joseph Poe purchased the property. Poe worked in various governmental capacities in Brooklyn Township before it was annexed by Cleveland. Not a farmer, Poe sold off the surrounding land, some of which became Brookside Park, and some of which is now a part of the Cleveland Zoo. Both Poe and his wife, Carrie, died in the early part of the 20th century and are buried in Riverside Cemetery in Brooklyn Centre.
Charles and Emma Starke purchased the house in 1914, and, according to the 1940 census, Emma still lived there after Charles’ death. According to research done in conjunction with a movement to save what was called the Brainard Residence, a family with the surname Skoda lived in the house in the 1960s and 1970s.
After that, it seems that the house was primarily a rental property and fell into disrepair. This property is rich with history, and there was an organized effort to preserve and restore this house as a landmark. This turned out not to be possible, but the memory of this house and its inhabitants will continue to live on through this [piece].
The Place
Brooklyn Centre is one of many “Brooklyn” neighborhoods on the west side of Cleveland. Its roots are in Brooklyn Township, which was a lake port dating all the way back to the end of the 18th century. The earliest settlers to the area, such as James Fish and Sherman Brainard’s grandfather, Ozias Brainard, hailed from Connecticut and built log cabin structures in what was then the wilderness. In the early 1800s, according to “A History of Cuyahoga County and the City of Cleveland” by William R. Coates, the area was almost solely populated by Fishes and Brainards. The early inhabitants of Brooklyn, as it was called at that time, were farmers.
By 1830, Brooklyn Township acted as a trading post, and the streetcar extension in 1869 led to the development of a burgeoning business district along Pearl Road. Cleveland annexed Brooklyn in 1894.
Polish and German immigrants came to this neighborhood as its business district and mills grew around the turn of the century. A large number of the houses currently standing in the area were built in the early 20th century.
Brookside Park became the stadium that hosted the Cleveland Amateur Baseball Association, drawing audiences in the tens of thousands for games in the first decade of the 20th century.
In the 1960s, the construction of I-71 affected the neighborhood. Many houses needed to be torn down to make way for the throughway. The neighborhood bounced back quickly, and now many consider the proximity to the interstate to be an advantage.
Within the last five years, Brooklyn Centre was registered as a Community Wildlife Habitat Site by the National Wildlife Federation. This year (2012), Brooklyn Centre celebrated its bicentennial to much fanfare and celebration.

Elwell Parker Complex

Elwell-Parker Industrial Park: 4205 St. Clair Ave.
178,000 sq. ft.; five buildings
The Company
The formation of Elwell-Parker occurred in 1882, in Wolverhampton, England. At the time, the company built dynamos, electric lighting, and equipment for tram cars. In the late 1800s, Alexander E. Brown, interested in building electric motors to power machinery that transported ore and coal, incorporated Elwell-Parker Electric Company in Cleveland. In its early years, Elwell-Parker dabbled in development of a range of electric motor production until it found its niche.
In 1906, the same year that Elwell-Parker moved to its complex on St. Clair Ave., Morris S. Towson, then an engineer for Elwell-Parker, designed an electric baggage carrier, which was used by the Pennsylvania Railroad. This technology was extended over the next few decades to lift trucks, used in general industry.
The Anderson Carriage Co. of Detroit took controlling interest in Elwell-Parker in 1909, for the use of its operations to build car components. At the time, electric cars were prominent in the market, but in only a few years, production would slow, then nearly cease, because the public demanded longer-range vehicles.
In 1920, Morris S. Towson was made president, and the Towson family helmed the company, generation by generation, up until the late 1980s. When Towson became president, the company focused its production solely on industrial trucks. His son, Sheldon, took over in 1941, and S.K. “Pete” Towson took the reins in 1958.
The 1960s and 1970s forced Elwell-Parker to innovate: they began to create assembly line industrial vehicle components. However, with the downturn of the steel and automotive industries in the early 1980s, the company started to struggle. In the late 80s, Pete Towson began to ready himself for retirement but found there weren’t any heirs interested in taking command.
Towson allowed for employee ownership, selling a portion of family shares, but by the mid-1990s, Elwell-Parker was on the verge of liquidation. Sue Lan Ma, a turnaround specialist, purchased Elwell-Parker Electric Company, changing its name to Elwell-Parker Ltd., and for a while, it seemed like it would return to its former prominent position in Cleveland. In 1999, Ma purchased McVeigh Material Handling, and was honored by two Cleveland business organizations for her contributions.
However, in 2000, Elwell-Parker lost its buildings to foreclosure and was sold to Hoist Liftruck of Bedford Park, Ill. After that, the buildings changed hands a couple of times, housing a small number of tenants, but were eventually demolished.
An art exhibition at Brownhoist Gallery in 2011 featured manipulated found objects from the Elwell-Parker complex. Artists Timothy Riffle and Jerry Mann collaborated to celebrate “the industrial archaeology of Cleveland.”
The wood used in [the tables/floor? in] this restaurant fulfills a similar function. Though the Elwell-Parker complex no longer exists, its history continues through its materials.
The Place: Goodrich-Kirtland Park neighborhood
Goodrich-Kirtland Park was annexed to Cleveland in 1850. Irish immigrants settled the area around 1865, and Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, still one of the significant landmarks of the area, was built in 1873.
The neighborhood began to urbanize early--especially in comparison to other Cleveland neighborhoods, which remained rural into the first couple of decades of the 20th century. In the 1870s and 1880s, businesses began to replace residences as the railroad lines allowed for development of industry. These business attracted Eastern European immigrants, such as Slovenian, Lithuanian, Croatian, German, and Polish populations.
Another immigrant group to play an important role in the formation of the neighborhood was the Chinese people. Cited as one of the oldest immigrant groups in Cleveland, the Chinese began to settle in this area in the 1860s. Other Asian population groups, such as Koreans, Thai, and Vietnamese, followed. Another wave of Asian immigrants arrived in Cleveland in the 1970s and 1980s, and now a large portion of Goodrich-Kirtland Park is made up of Asiatown. In 1991, Asia Plaza, referred to as the heart of Asiatown, was created to accommodate the emerging Asian population, and the Asian Town Center, opened just a couple of years ago, hosts a variety of retail and restaurant choices, as well as green space.
One structure of the neighborhood’s history still plays a vital role in the community: the Goodrich-Gannett Neighborhood Center. It was founded as a settlement house in 1896 by Flora Stone Mather. In the 1960s, it became a neighborhood center, and is named after the Reverend Goodrich of Old Stone Church and Alice Gannett, who was head worker at the settlement house for a number of years.
Though the neighborhood of Goodrich-Kirtland Park is still mainly industrial, many of the older manufacturing buildings in the neighborhood are being converted into loft spaces, for studios, office work, and live-work spaces. Asiatown, concert venues, restaurants and bars, and the Steamship William G. Mather Museum all serve as pulls for visitors.
Picture of Towson's Electric Truck