Historical wood from Lanett Mill inspires Chuck Moore’s latest creation

Published 10:30 am Friday, February 24, 2023

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Chuck Moore of the Fairfax community has unveiled his latest wooden sculpture installation at Point University. The sculpture, a hawk, pays homage not only to Point’s mascot but to the closed-down Lanett mill where the wood came from.

The original growth pine wood was part of a supporting beam from when the building was originally constructed. Moore estimated that it was from between 1890 and 1894. The base boards it is mounted on are from the Langdale mill.

“These timbers that they cut to build these buildings were original growth pine. They were massive,” Moore said. “They had never been cut, and they would get trees that they could get 40 or 50 foot long that was big enough to mount four story buildings. That doesn’t exist anymore … That tree was living when the Indians controlled this place.”

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For over 47 years, Moore worked in the mills at Riverview, Langdale. Fairfax, Shawmut, Lanett and Dixie. During his time, he has sculpted using wood and metal materials from each of those mills. Some of his pieces are also made of native soapstone or talcum and alabaster. When he finally retired from Lanier and Carter, he took a few pieces of the historic place with him.

Moore has been sculpting since he was 15 years old. He began working in manufacturing plants in the valley area when he was 17, and he has been sourcing scrap materials for his artwork ever since. 

Moore decided to use materials from the mills when they were being torn down. He took home truckloads of materials that were headed for the dump. 

“That’s what made it so important to me to try to save some of it … I’ve tried to save some of every building that’s now gone,” Moore said. 

Moore wanted to find places around the community where his pieces could be seen and appreciated for their historical significance. 

“So a part of it would stay here,” he said. 

The backside of the Point University hawk is peppered with small nail holes that once held the wood together. In those days, buildings were constructed using plain square nails. Though little damages like this can pose an issue for Moore while sculpting, he also embraces them as historic details.

“You’ve got to work around the imperfections,” Moore said.

Moore never studied art in school. Experience and hard work has been his education. Over the years, he has learned from his mistakes. Now, he sculpts his pieces mainly by hand. 

“I don’t have any education. What I know I taught myself, and I’ve made a lot of mistakes but my measure of success is that people will show you what you do,” Moore said. 

Over the years, the community has shown Moore what his work means to it. He has installed sculptures all around the community. Four of them — two wood and two metal — greet Chambers County Library visitors. He has 12 pieces in different places around LaGrange; three at Sweetland Amphitheatre, two at city hall, four at Granger Park and more. 

The Alabama Art Society in Montgomery has displayed his pieces over the years. They even spent a month at an art show in Mobile.

The hawk sculpture greets visitors from inside the Lanier Academic Center lobby, where it’s on an indefinite loan with Point University. It can stay to watch over the college for as long as they want it. 

Moore said that if at any time the college no longer wants the hawk, he will pick it back up. Otherwise, it will remain open to the public to see and touch a piece of Lanett’s history.

“This is perfect,” he said. “I couldn’t ask for anything better.”Historical wood from Lanett Mill inspires Chuck Moore’s latest creation