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Industry & Trends

Clemson Loses an Oak but Gains an Heirloom

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September 22, 2021 | Bill Esler

Clemson, SC—A majestic red oak that stood watch over Clemson University’s Memorial Stadium for more than 75 years has been converted into a one-of-a-kind trestle table by Martin Custom Woodworking & Antique Restoration.

The last of a stand of red oaks at Clemson University’s stadium, taken down in 2015,
has been made into conference table by Martin Custom Woodworking & Restoration.

Regarded as an irreplaceable part of the Tigers’ landscape and history, the oak was the last standing tree at the stadium, the site of 24 conference titles and bowl games by the University’s football team, as well as a national football championship. The tree was removed in 2015 because it was blocking the view of the scoreboard.

Master craftsman Curtis Martin handcrafted the tree into an iconic, one-of-a-kind, 17-foot boardroom table, using the heart of the oak, and has developed a marketing effort to raise visibility for the finely crafted furnishing. It features joint-in-tenon construction, natural slab live-edge top, and inlays of the Tiger logo in four points on the surface.

The table can be separated into two sections , and it “bleeds” vivid Clemson orange in the form of epoxy poured into its natural splits. A photo plaque documents both the tree’s history and Clemson’s football legacy. Finished with clear lacquer, and no stain applied, the table features walnut butterflies and sits on a cherry base with walnut and rosewood accents. More information can be found at www.clemsonoaktable.com.

“The table literally has its roots at the home of the Clemson Tigers,” says Martin, a Wilmington, NC-based, third-generation custom furniture craftsman. “Football has such a rich heritage at Clemson, and this oak table is a nostalgic treasure.”

An item of this significance related to Clemson’s proud footballing legacy at the Memorial Stadium—nicknamed “Death Valley” by Head Coach Frank Howard in the 1950s—is “certain to generate huge interest among Tigers fans,” says Martin, owner of Martin Custom Woodworking & Antique Restoration. “I’d be thrilled to see the Clemson oak table back where it belongs—at Clemson.”

Many fans remember the tree that towered over a corner of the lower seating bowl for 75-plus years and became a favorite photo spot. “If Tigers fans have any thoughts about where this treasure should find its new home, I’d be delighted to hear from them,” Martin says. The owner of Martin Custom Woodworking & Antique Restoration in Wilmington, NC, is a third-generation master craftsman. His grandfather, Edward Tibbles, served a craftsman apprenticeship in England. Martin says he has always “wanted to know everything I could about wood, from the seedling to the kiln.”

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