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Multimedia Journalist

Peace in wood

Paris, Kentucky
Photographs and writing by Julian Leshay Guadalupe while attending Mountain Workshops 2023

David Puryear, 48, born and raised in Kentucky, is always working with his hands. He started his own company, Bourbon Millwork in 2016.

David Puryear has had a job since he was 15, first working for his father at Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. in nearby Danville – and years later at various jobs across Kentucky.

But, in 2016, David went from employee to business owner after taking out a $15,000 loan to follow his passion – woodworking.

"Bourbon Millwork is a company. Bourbon Millwork has a name. Bourbon Millwork has a location," David says. "But without me, it doesn't exist.”

David is usually up before the sun rises – and often at his shop late into the night. His loyal rescue dog, Avery, a Pryador mix, is constantly at his side.

Each morning, the silence at Bourbon Millwork is pierced by loud exhaust fans and the rumble of machines as the business grinds to work. The smell of fresh cut lumber permanently lingers.

A neighbor needs a new front door? Call David.

A luxury homebuilder needs custom trim for a house? Call David.

A building owner needs windows repaired in their historic property? Call David.

In addition to his woodworking passion, family and animals keep David’s life in balance. He is an animal control officer with the Paris Police Department. That's where, when responding to a call for two abandoned dogs, he met Avery.

He and his wife Erika, married 26 years, have raised two children, Matthew, 25, and Lindsey, 22 – along with four dogs. They enjoy dinner on Friday nights at local restaurants and are season ticket holders for University of Kentucky basketball games. (Being a UK fan in Paris is practically a requirement of citizenship.)

David and Erika work long hours to make Bourbon Millwork a success.

Most nights, hours after David’s employees have gone home, one truck remains parked in the front of his shop on Winchester Street. Warm light glares through the windows and a radio blares. David finds his “happy place,” free from interruption.

"Seventy-five percent of my life is here," David says, "but I love it.”

Using raw materials, David crafts old-fashioned decor, specializing in doors and custom architecture. He is shown here through a hole in an unfinished door.

In the front office of Bourbon Millwork, Erika, married to David for 26 years, handles the office work he finds “painful."

Contracting with custom home builder, Heller Built, David delivers custom trim to a multi-million dollar property in Keene Manor.

Avery, a Pyrador mix, comes to work with David seven days a week. “She’s my break,” David says about Avery, who he found abandoned in a backyard while responding to an animal control call.

David, sitting in his truck, responds to a call of a loose dog who bit a cat. The dog's owner, Tiffany, calls a local animal hospital for assistance. The cat's owner, pictured in the mirror, waits for an answer.

David leaves his shop and walks across the street to Trackside, a restaurant along railroad tracks, to meet with his family gathered there for dinner. David created a custom bar top for the establishment.

David embraces his daughter-in-law, Julietta, who is married to his 25 year-old son, Matthew, after enjoying a family dinner.

In seat 7 and 8, of section 20, David and Erika cheer the Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball team during the first exhibition game of the season. Passed down from Erika’s parents, they sit in the exact same seats that have been in the family since Rupp Arena opened in 1976.

“He was across the hall and then he kept on saying “let’s go out”… and he grew on me. We finally went out and that was it,” Erika says about how she met David while living in the same apartment building. Twenty-six years later, David and Erika attend as many Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball games as possible.

Returning home after a long day at work, David and Erika settle down in front of the TV before going to bed.

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