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If you want home furnishings with heritage, how about Bob Timberlake's ``Old Salem' collection?


The 400,000-plus folks who visit Old Salem each year can now do more than just look.Debuting today at the start of the weeklong fall International Home Furnishing Market are reproductions and adaptations of some of the furniture and accessories found in Old Salem, a restored 18th-century Moravian village in Winston-Salem.

The collection is from Bob Timberlake, the Lexington artist who several years ago turned his talents to designing furniture and accessories reminiscent of those found in his down-home paintings.

``Old Salem' is a part of his country-style ``World of Bob Timberlake' collection, introduced 2 1/2 years ago in collaboration with Lexington Furniture Industries. ``Old Salem' should be available to the public in about six months.

Concerning the ``World of Bob Timberlake,' Kathy Davis, Lexington Furniture's marketing services manager, says ``many, many major furniture dealers tell us the line is the best-selling collection in American furniture history.'

Among those who have purchased pieces from the ``World of Bob Timberlake' are Barbara Bush - for the Bushes' Kennebunkport, Maine, home - and actors Clint Eastwood and Barry Corbin (``Northern Exposure').

People in other countries love it, too. This fall, Harrod's department store in London has devoted an entire floor to the Timberlake collection.

Harrod's may well order ``Old Salem' pieces, too, Timberlake says.

The artist says he thinks the most dramatic of the 60 pieces in the new collection is a blue corner cupboard. He estimates that 40 percent of the ``Old Salem' collection is comprised of reproductions rather than adaptations.

``I've had affection for Old Salem since before it was a restored village,' drawls the cotton-haired Timberlake, who rose to fame with his down-to-earth paintings.

``My grandmother, Lillie Raper, went to Salem College about 120 years ago. My mother, Ella, went there, too, and my daughter, Kelly, got a teaching certificate there.'

He says he also had a lot of Moravian relatives on his great-great-grandmother's side.

``My Great-Aunt Buff lived in Bethania and went to the Moravian church. She gave me an Old Salem quilt I still have. Has a Moravian star pattern. And my first one-man show, in May 1970, was held at the Gallery of Contemporary Art - now SECCA (Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art) - in the old bank building at Old Salem.'

Timberlake says he also built a house of Old Salem bricks while living in Winston-Salem during his younger days.

Not only is he giving his fans some new ``antiques-in-the-making,' as Timberlake likes to call his furniture and accessories, but the Old Salem restoration itself will benefit from royalties on sales of the home furnishings.

``More exciting to us than the royalties is that next year Lexington Furniture plans to do $1 million in advertising for the 'Old Salem' collection,' says Linda Therrell, Old Salem public relations director. ``That kind of nationwide exposure will bring in tourists.' As a setting for the Home Furnishings Market introduction, Lexington Furniture, a division of the giant Masco Home Furnishings company, has re-created scaled-down versions of several Old Salem buildings in its showroom on National Highway between High Point and Thomasville.

Don Heckheis designed the showroom setting.

``It looks like a section of Old Salem was just swooshed up and transferred,' Timberlake said recently by telephone. The little buildings form a street scene reminiscent of the restored village's 90 buildings, most of them private homes. A dozen are open to the public.


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