Brian Newton lives in the shadow of Rabbit Hash Ridge, astride a more than 200-year-old Indian trail that winds its way up from the Ohio River. His home in the forest is a square hewn log cabin, built in the 1830s from tulip poplar felled and worked on site.
A short walk up the hill in back is his broom shop, filled with tools and equipment from the 1800s. He is a fifth generation broom maker who learned from a 60-year-old man who had made brooms for more than 35 years at that time. The man who taught him was 90 years old and had made brooms his entire life, as had his father and his father’s father before him.
Making brooms the old way takes longer because there are more steps involved and more finesse needed. His hands are in contact with the work to a much greater degree. He rubs the handles with an old-recipe soft wax finish that both protects the wood and allows customers to feel the grain.
Newton also mixes the colors and dyes the brush himself. Inside the broom, where one cannot see, he de-stresses the brush to make it last longer and stitches it together. He strives to make the finest, longest-lasting brooms that anyone can buy.
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Early American Homes
For Sale in Virginia
Carter’s Tavern. Featured in the June 2014 issue of Early American Life. Original features including wood floors, hand graining, and marbled woodwork. 4 bedrooms, 3 baths. On the
National Register. Price reduced.. $395,000.