DIXON SPRINGS, Ill. — When Rick Street and his wife,
Stephanie Brown, planned to build a pond on their land, they decided a deck also
would be nice. What has resulted is nothing short of a sensation.
The couple’s pond — on their rural home in deep southern
Illinois — is adorned by a unique addition: a deck in the shape of a guitar.
It has taken on a life of its own, as photos of the
structure have flooded the Internet, intrigued thousands and attracted the
attention — and the free help — of a national building materials company.
It began in the fall of 2009 when they were planning the
pond. As an employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources
Conservation Service, Street has some technical prowess.
“He designed our pond, and we knew we wanted to have a deck
so we could fish and go out there and sit,” Brown said. “When we were making
these plans, it just came to me, and I posed the question: What if our deck were
in the shape of a guitar?”
As the proverbial light bulb shined brightly in her head,
Brown got to work in earnest. She measured every inch of the six-string Fender
acoustic guitar she owns, rescaled it and drew everything out on graph paper.
They then got to work on the construction project, beginning with installing
concrete support pilings.
“It was a team effort. I couldn’t have done it without him,
and he couldn’t have done it without me,” Brown said. “He did all the framing,
and we set the posts together, with help from some friends. I cut every board,
placing flags where they should go. I freehanded that curve, and Rick came along
with a jigsaw and cut the boards off to fit the design.”
Shorter boards were used for the neck and for the frets. The
dock measures 55 feet from end to end and is 22 feet wide at the widest part.
The neck itself consisted of 147 boards.
The guitar’s “tuning keys” are solar panels that power
portable lights used on the deck. “They do turn, so we can tease people about
tuning the guitar,” Brown said.
The pegs are LED lights encased in drinking glasses.
“We didn’t really build the deck to get attention,” Brown
said. “But after we did it, we realized just how original the design was. We had
posted some pictures on our Facebook pages. One of my friends makes guitars, and
he shared the photo on his page. And before we knew it, this photo had gone
“One day I’m sitting in a restaurant in Harrisburg and I get
a Facebook message from my daughter and she said, ‘You’re famous.’ And there’s a
website and a picture of our guitar deck that we took. That was the first sign
that people had been seeing our deck.”
And that was just the beginning. Though built with treated
wood, the deck already was showing its age and was in need of maintenance,
including replacement of some of the boards. That’s when Advanced Environmental
Recycling Technologies came into the picture, literally.
Someone from the Arkansas-based composite materials company
saw the picture on the Internet and eventually was able to contact the couple.
“They said, ‘We love your deck. It looks it might be our
material,’” Brown said. “They asked if it was made from their materials. I
jokingly said, ‘No, but let’s make a deal.’ And lo and behold, three months
later they were here with materials to restore our deck simply for the benefit
of using the images from the photography in their advertising materials because
it’s such a striking design.”
The company remodeled the deck using its patented
MoistureShield composite boards. They not only sent the materials, but also two
carpenters to assist Street with the remodeling.
Street and Brown now have something that reflects two things
they enjoy: their pond and music.
“Rick is a better guitar player than I am. I am really not a
guitar player,” Brown said. “It’s just one of those things I’ve always wanted to
do. We’re both music lovers.”