It’s about PLACE….and about local master craftsmen. McMartin and Beggins.

Talbot County – land of pleasant living, tree-lined mile-long lanes leading to 17th century estates, stunning river views and bayside retreats.  Once people fall in love with Talbot County, it’s hard to leave.

Take Jim McMartin and Jim Beggins, of McMartin and Beggins Furniture in Wittman. McMartin arrived in Talbot County from his boyhood home in Annapolis in 1988. A boatbuilder and restorer of boats and antiques, he discovered that he loved design work above all, and began to design and build fine furniture while still in Annapolis.  He opened his furniture making shop in St. Michaels, inside of an old grist mill. Artistic and passionate about wood, he describes his work as “turning logs into art”.

<photo credit Elizabeth Beggins>

Jim Beggins, another boatbuilder from Long Island arrived in St. Michaels by boat in 1994. Looking for work, he found himself in McMartin’s furniture shop, and a partnership was born. With a similar background in boatbuilding, the two were an instant match. Beggins brought an analytical and meticulous style to the table, while McMartin continued to take the lead on design.

<photo credit Elizabeth Beggins>

The pair complement each other beautifully. Both consummate master craftsmen with a passion for period furniture and methods, they work seamlessly through projects, each contributing his best effort.  A dozen years later, the pair have an impressive client list, including the Maryland Governor’s Office and The Vice President of the United States’ home in Washington, DC. They choose to focus on the Federal style (the early period, 1780 – 1800) with appreciation for the clean lines and simple design where the wood itself becomes the focal point. And the wood they choose is local – from Talbot County.

<photos credit Elizabeth Beggins>

Visit their 4500 square foot complex in Wittman, and you’ll find sheds filled with white oak, red cedar, walnut, cherry, maple and poplar – all local species.  The logs are milled on site and set atop one another with spacers, slowly drying in proper order, slices of the large logs they once were. Organized this way, McMartin and Beggins know exactly which tree has which wood grains for any new project.  Inside their shop, you’ll find modern machinery, but much of their work is done using the same period tools and methods used by furniture makers in 1800. With timeless style and construction, each piece is made to order, by hand, carefully and slowly.

<photo credit Elizabeth Beggins>

It’s about place – this place….this Talbot County business built with Talbot County wood, where logs are turned into art every single day. Learn more at

~ by kbosin on October 5, 2011.

4 Responses to “It’s about PLACE….and about local master craftsmen. McMartin and Beggins.”

  1. This is amazing! Thank you so much for sharing this very touching and human story. Both the history and the furntiture are beautiful … my very best ti the craftsmen!

  2. Wow, that piece is incredible! LIKE! I also like how all the amazing photos are black and white and then pow! at the end, the gorgeous color. wham! when I come visit next, we should go to their studio! Ed would love it.

  3. Come on October 29 – these are the guys who are sponsoring WOOD, an event. It’s going to be great! Wood turning, carving, joinery and decoys and gorgeous, handmade guitars, plus art. Kevin will be making woodcut prints. they’ll have a sawyer turning logs into lumber, which is really cool to watch. Johnny oyster seed is bringing King Solomon oysters, Carol Bean will be cooking flatbreads and fish tacos, there’s going to be music, local beers and Okey -Dokey Chardonnay from the St Michaels Winery!

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