PALO — Marty Price’s buildings are for the birds, literally. Because, since early summer, the Palo carpenter has crafted birdhouses, replicating buildings in Palo from those along its main street to private homes and even his hangout away from home, Brogan’s Pub & Grub.
That was Marty’s first re-creation, when carpentry work slowed in the heat of summer.
“It’s always slow in an election year,” adds Marty, a licensed general contractor. “People don’t want to spend money when they don’t know what’s going to happen.”
So, with extra time on his hands and an indoor workshop available through longtime friend, Dee Lindsey, he began building birdhouses.
“I’d built some with my kids, school projects,” he says. “I never got into the detail I do now. I’d just throw some boards together.”
First, he made a simple wren house. Then he took pictures of the pub and created that. It would sell for $75, but Marty gave it to the owner. He did the same with 10 birdhouse buildings in all, creating the main business district on Vinton Street, from Velvette’s to West Side Insurance.
“It was just the novelty of it,” Marty says.
But, as word got out, he created more and more birdhouses, from made-up pubs and hunting lodges to replicas of area houses. He usually recycles old wood.
Marty loves to add special touches like Coke machines, patio furniture, even beer cans and pop bottles on the tables. He’ll personalize birdhouses for sports teams. And now he sells them, from say $35, up to $100.
“Every single person who buys one, says he needs to be charging more,” says Dee, who completes the detailed painting.
“You can only get what people will give you,” Marty reasons.
Besides, in most cases, it’s been fun.
“It kills us to personalize one for teams we don’t like,” Dee laughs, showing a birdhouse with a Chicago Cubs insignia. “I’m a Braves fan.”
Neither Marty, 55, or Dee, 59, are natives of Palo, but they’ve lived in the community long enough they’d never live anywhere else. Dee’s husband, Mike, who died in 2009, had set up the workshop behind their home. Dee paints scenes on old windows as well as other crafts in what she now calls, “Dee’s Roost.”
Marty had remodeled a bathroom and finished other work for her and plans to get back into construction as business hopefully picks up. For now, though, he’s happy to create houses for his feathered friends. He loves to do custom houses — call him at (319) 533-0283 — from photographs, but they need to be picked up at the shop.
“I’ll make anything anybody wants,” Marty says. “We can even include your favorite beer on it.”
Comments are closed.