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A Basement in Belleville

By Sarah Popelka

Cross through the weathered archway, the patio of retired Rock Island Railroad ties and beyond the suspended porch swing to the enchanting home of Bud and Pat Hanzlick. The door opens almost before the knock: every visitor is warmly welcomed into the unassuming headquarters of internationally known Bekan Rustic Furniture.

And it all started with a complaint.

Bud Hanzlick has been creating his one-of-a-kind masterpieces for more than 20 years, ever since his wife, Pat, complained about constantly chasing after their plastic furniture tossed by the ever-present Kansas breezes.

"Can't you make me furniture that won't blow away in this wind?"

Bud made his first three benches out of Hedge-wood, or Osage Orange, because it is the second-heaviest wood native to North America with a dry weight ranging 45-60 lbs per cubic foot. That's heavy.

The benches are made with an exposed-tendon method where no screws or nails are necessary—or wanted. Dowels extend from each segment to hold the furniture together along with waterproof glue. This time-consuming method is not widely used in the furniture industry today.

After confidently placing the new chairs on his patio and convincing his wife that they would remain, Bud believed he was finished. However, an admiring friend wrote an article about his unique carpentry and Bud's rustic creations quickly received attention from national magazines and newspapers.

People from all over the country came to see "what was happening in a basement in Belleville."

"It's been lots of fun and interesting. I really enjoy it," Bud said.

In fact, the knocks on the Hanzlick's door have come at gray hours of the early morning and the dark of the night. The Hanzlick gladly host tours, but prefer doing them during the day.

The Hanzlicks have shipped furniture all over the nation including California, Colorado and Florida.
Bud's works were featured in Robert Redford's Sundance Catalogue and are currently featured in several log-home publications.

Zoo goers both at Tulsa Zoo and Sedgwick County Zoo frequently relax on Bud's unique benches. Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius has even been pictured enjoying a bench Bud specially made for a reception.

Bekan Rustic Furniture is based in Republic County in North Central Kansas. In fact the name Bekan is actually based on the name "Belleville."

For more information or a brochure, contact the Hanzlicks at (785) 527-2427

 

 

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Last Updated September 29, 2006
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