Inspired by the passion that he developed by working with his family transform a 1705 farmhouse in West Brookfield, MA into a restaurant, the Salem Cross Inn, Ken Salem founded Salem Board & Beam Company in 1997.
Influenced by George Watson, a project leader with the Smithsonian Institute. Through that work, Ken learned about the American chestnut trees that were destroyed by blight in the early 1900's. He developed a deep appreciation for the strength and beauty of the wood, frequently uses it in hand-crafting furniture, and is a member of the American Chestnut Foundation, and is dedicated to the tree's restoration.
Prior to becoming a maker of hand-made furniture, Ken was a financial advisor in Boston for 15 years. Life changed when his father fell ill and Ken returned to the family business to help. It was during that time that he decided to give up the wild ride of Wall Street and embark on a calling that had lain dormant for years - hand-crafting beautiful, furniture that would be treasured for generations.
Ken lives with his wife, Nadine, and their two sons in a century old house in Northampton, MA that has won a preservation award from the Northampton Historical Commission. The Salem family works together with Gabe Rivera, and other trusted staff to hand craft a full line of distinctive furniture.
Ken Salem and Salem Board & Beam have been prominently featured in both the national and local media. Ken is a featured artist in the book Made by Hand, Art and Craft in the Heartland of New England, and was included in the NPR program that featured this book. Additionally, Ken has appeared on WGBY's series, Making It Here, and was WGBY's featured artist for 2003. Salem Board & Beam is frequently featured in the Springfield Republican, Union News, and the Hampshire Gazette
“Prove to Me You Got Some Coordination” letterpress monoprint, wood type by Lisa Hersey