May 2011: Just after dawn, an odd little crew piled out of the Dom, a communist era excuse for a hotel, and made their way through the quite rural town of Sanok, Poland. They snaked across the one lane bridge unsure if it would hold all of them and the occasional truck that rattled the wooden structure. Below them the San River bubbled by on its journey to the Baltic.
It was just about a mile and a half to the work site. The word “impossible” came into their minds when they got their first view of the task before them. There it was, set in an open green field on a hillside…a stack of freshly cut, heavy logs. The big trees, minus their limbs, were still dressed in their rough bark and looked nothing like the wooden synagogue roof they were about to become.
Handshouse Studio’s Rick and Laura Brown gathered the crew and explained the vision. Borrowing the skills handed down for generations and axes specially shaped and sharpened for this task, they would hew these rough logs into the rafters, the tie beams, the king post, the box frame, and finally the hundreds of pegs that would hold the massively heavy structure together. After ten years of speculating, researching, engineering, and model making, it would be up to the Browns, the Handshouse students, and members of the Timber Framers Guild to reconstruct the Gwoździec synagogue to the way it was in 1731.
January 2013: A year and a half later on a gray winter morning, a sleepy crew encountered the cut beams stacked and covered in the dusty basement of a construction site in Warsaw. Handshouse and the Timber Framers Guild had gathered for another “impossible” task. They would have to assemble the entire roof structure and install the elaborately painted ceiling in just 19 days.
With the help of our Kickstarter donors, our film crew was there to record this amazing event. As a way of thanking those who donated $1000 or more, the crew drove pegs carrying those donors’ names. Those pegs tie together the timber frame structure, the symbolic backbone of the Gwoździec synagogue project.
Thank you again to all of our donors. We are working on the film now and look forward to sharing it with you.