Photo by Heather Middleton
Lawrence Murphey sets up bird houses for sale at South Point Shopping Center in McDonough.
By Heather Middleton
STOCKBRIDGE — For the last three years, Lawrence Murphey has been perfecting the art of building bird houses.
He can build one in about 15 minutes.
“I have all my saws and everything all lined up in order,” he said. “I’ll cut enough for about 50 houses and then build them.”
Although Murphey’s roots began in carpentry, unemployment led him to his new career. At 8, he was selling fruit at a stand and helping his father in the carpentry business building homes in Austell and Mabelton.
“I’ve always been a worker and I enjoy it,” he said.
But Murphey lost his job in 2008. Once his unemployment benefits ran out, he knew he needed to do something.
“Defeat was not an option,” he said. “You can always give God the praise and credit. He has made us smart enough to figure it out.”
With his faith and skills, Murphey set out to build a better bird house.
Murphey creates his masterpieces from sheets of PVC, the same material used in making plumbing pipes, instead of more traditional wood. The designs let folks show support for their favorite teams.
“Everyone loves sports,” he said.
Murphey uses decals from 38 different baseball and football teams to decorate the houses.
“PVC won’t rot and the decals won’t fade,” he said. “They’re the same kind used on tractor trailers.”
Murphey said he started out just making Georgia team houses, but customers kept asking for other teams.
“I take requests and have shipped all over the country,” he said. “People will see me while on vacation and ask for a card.”
Murphey estimates he makes 300-400 bird houses a year and sells many at craft shows. He can also be found at shopping centers and gas stations around Clayton and Henry counties.
At 68, he shows no sign of slowing down.
The houses sell for $39.95. Murphey can be reached at 770-389-5254 or via email at email@example.com