Imagining the Rose Foundation Gazebo

Ashley Hall, Marketing Coordinator
August 29, 2019

Matt Parker

Matt Parker takes time to admire and chat about the Rose Foundation Gazebo.

When you experience the brand new All People's Trail this November 9, you will also see the new, artistically designed Rose Foundation Gazebo, built by local carpenter and artist Matt Parker of Creative Carpentry and Design Co. When conceptualizing the design for the new gazebo, Kay Carlson, President and CEO of the Nature Center, wanted something that looked whimsical, yet fit perfectly into the natural setting of the surrounding environment. We think you will agree that we found the perfect designer to create the gorgeous new gazebo. On a warm, sunny day, we drove out to Hinckley, Ohio to see the nearly finished gazebo for ourselves and to gain insight on Matt Parker's process in building this incredibly imaginative and welcoming structure.

With his laid-back, easygoing attitude, Matt Parker is not your average carpenter. Upon meeting him, Matt's friendly and cool personality immediately puts you at ease. His love of nature is obvious when you look at his works, as many are inspired by natural elements - but when did his love of nature begin? His love of woodworking started from an early age. Having grown up in nearby North Olmsted, Ohio, Matt was fond of playing outside in the forest with his friends building forts out of sticks and natural materials.

"When I was a young boy, I remember my dad bought a shed from Sears. A man arrived with a stack of materials and wasted no time starting to cut shapes and nailing pieces together. It was amazing to me how he would methodically choose the right piece, measure, cut, and set into place a board that would continually transform the shape of the structure. Although his attitude wasn’t the greatest and he didn’t want me around handling the saws or his cigarettes or anything else, I was so interested that I set up camp close by and watched him the entire afternoon. The shed was complete in all of its glory that evening, and is probably still there today. I didn’t know it at the time but carpentry and creating with a gamut of materials would become my life’s passion. It is rewarding to bring people’s ideas to life, combining functionality with beauty for many years of enjoyment."

Matt imagined the concept for the new gazebo taking inspiration directly from nature -- by looking at a leaf!  Matt has an uncanny ability to craft amazing works of sculpted art from a straight piece of lumber - doing things many could never imagine, except Matt himself.  His 'I can do that' attitude is what keeps his work fresh and unique. "My favorite part of this build was erecting the structure and framework for the gazebo itself. I loved seeing it come together," Matt explained.

In this unusual construction process, the entire structure, currently being built in Hinckley, Ohio, will be relocated this fall to the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes! Matt has designed the Gazebo to come apart in multiple pieces, which will then be transported by truck and reassembled on-site as part of the reconstruction of the All People's Trail.  Due to the location of the gazebo and access to the area during the surrounding construction on the All People's Trail, the materials and tools needed, the artistic and creative process of bringing the structure to life, and the timing of the overall project, the solution to build off-site seemed obvious. 

The new Rose Foundation Gazebo is built from only two kinds of wood: cedar and pine. The edges and very top of the gazebo are trimmed with copper, which will shine in the sun until it weathers to a rich patina over time. The four circular windows near the roof, which face the four cardinal directions, have intricate cutouts of natural objects: a sun, moon and stars, great blue heron, and oak leaf.  Many aspects of the gazebo's whimsical architecture were not part of the original plans, but came organically during the construction process. Try to find a straight piece of wood or a 90-degree angle and you'll be hard-pressed to find one. Matt utilized scraps of wood from other parts of the gazebo to create intricate details. Recycling is a large part of our mission at the Nature Center, so it is even more important that Matt reused wood for this structure. A surprising aspect of talking with Matt Parker is that the Rose Foundation Gazebo is the biggest artistic piece that he's ever done. Previously, he mainly worked in home cabinetry renovations and small, freelance carpentry projects. We are thrilled to say he is debuting his first large artistic piece at the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes.

The process of watching Matt's vision come to life over the last four months has been breathtaking and we hope that you and your loved ones find many years of tranquility and happiness under the gazebo on the new All People's Trail starting November 9, 2019!