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Brownley marks 50th anniversary of Colonial Wood Shop

Gary Wayne Brownley has been building things for much of his life. For the last 50 years, he’s owned Colonial Wood Shop at Port Haywood.

Brownley must have good building genes. His father Marshall Brownley of Mathews built houses in Mathews for many years, with Gary working alongside him in the business for 10 years. Other relatives were boatbuilders.

Brownley said construction is hard work and he wanted a job that was a bit less strenuous. So he opened Colonial Wood Shop, constructing the block building mostly by himself.

In the early years, Brownley operated the shop “from 9 till 5 and then from 7 until I got tired.” Later, as the business took off, he cut back to more normal mostly daytime hours.

Brownley said he’s always worked alone in his shop, but certain installation jobs required him to hire occasional help.

His specialty for years was building cabinets, often of knotty pine and later western pine. Over the past 10 years or so, Brownley said, he sw...

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