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A Tour Through the History of National Lumber

original lumber yard in maryland

For over 100 years, National Lumber has been a cornerstone of Baltimore. We pride ourselves on our history and deep ties to the community, and the incredible companies we’ve been able to partner with throughout our time in business. We’ve been around to see Baltimore, and the world, grow and change. But we’ve kept some keepsakes from the journey along the way. Arnold Fruman, co-owner of National Lumber, was kind enough to take us on a tour through his office. It doubles as a museum to the long and interesting history we have, and the challenges we’ve faced along the way.

A Short History of National Lumber

Our company was initially founded in 1919 as a lumber yard. Our original location was in the heart of Baltimore’s Little Italy neighborhood. If you visit the area today, you can still see a wall decal with our faithful mascot Pop.

National Lumber original shop in Little Italy
A painted rendition of the original National Lumber shop in Little Italy.

Our company was founded by Alexander Fruman. Five generations later, the business is still owned and operated by the Fruman family, today consisting of father Arnold, and his two sons and co-owners, Neal and Kevin. Throughout its history, National Lumber Company has experienced growth and expansion, including acquiring  P.M. Womble Lumber Company in 1958. The company has passed through five generations of the Fruman family, from Alexander to Isadore to Leonard to Arnold, Neal, and Kevin. In that time, Baltimore has grown into quite a different place. The items in Arnold’s office show how a building material supply company operated in days gone by.

A Tour of Arnold’s Office

Many of the items displayed in Arnold’s office showcase how business was once conducted. A prized piece is the Dalton adding machine that served as the company’s only piece of office equipment up until 1933.

National Lumber historic typewriter

This adding machine was an essential item to the operations of National Lumber for many years. Arnold’s father would bring it home with him at the end of each day to keep track of the company’s books. While office equipment may have received an upgrade in the years since, this beloved adding machine will always serve as a reminder of what times were like before.

NL horse carriage lumber delivery

Another iconic call back to the old days, this image depicts how lumber used to be delivered across the city. Before box trucks and moffetts, we had horse-drawn flatbed carts where lumber would be loaded and distributed city-wide.

Throughout the office, there are more iconic and historic items, including one of Isadora’s business cards, a piece of wood from the legendary Wye Oak tree (which was once the largest oak tree in the country), journals of handwritten transactions going back to the 1940s, and more insights into our long history in Baltimore.


Filling out the walls of the office are some of the articles that have been written about National Lumber and its legacy in Baltimore over the years. Feature articles from the Baltimore Jewish Times about the business accompany a write-up from the Baltimore Business Journal acknowledging National Lumber as one of Baltimore’s oldest family-owned businesses still in operation today.

Arnold’s office is a time capsule, allowing us to step in and appreciate all of the hard work that’s been done over the years to keep National Lumber as one of Baltimore’s staples. We’re happy to have the privilege today to continue to supply incredible builders across the Baltimore and DC metro areas. If you’re ready to get building your next project, contact the team at National Lumber today.

More to explore

Kitchen DEsigner

Laura brings 18 years of experience to our kitchen design team. She helps customers build exceptional kitchen spaces down to the finest details. 

Every client has unique needs, and Laura enjoys the puzzle of figuring out how to fulfill them. She combines her technical abilities with her background in interior design to balance functionality and beauty.

She listens to her clients to help them narrow down their choices and presents a curated selection to make the process less overwhelming. Laura finds creative solutions to check off their wish list while keeping them on budget.

Her personal favorite design trend is a transitional style with a hint of traditional details. She loves the mix of painted colors and the textures and variations of natural woods. However, the best
part of her job is the opportunity to work in every design style
and come up with different combinations of styles, materials,
and finishes executing her client’s unique vision.

Personally, she loves everything involving water- the ocean, pools, boating, and long baths.
She also enjoys anything with a story- books, movies, shows, etc.
Her newest hobby is attempting to have as much fun cooking as she does exploring new restaurants.

Kitchen DEsigner

With over 15 years of experience, LindaRose brings deep knowledge of how to achieve beautiful kitchen designs at the right price. 

For LindaRose, listening to a client’s needs is paramount to achieving a great design. Creativity is key to kitchen design, requiring out-of-the-box thinking to achieve an excellent final product. 

Some of her favorite design trends she introduces to clients include transitional, clean lines, and dark islands with light perimeters. 

Before entering the world of kitchen design, she spent 20 years in theatre as a singer and actor, working in notable local theatres like Round House and Everyman.

In her free time, she enjoys other creative endeavors such as working with textiles including quilting, embroidery, and weaving. 

Kitchen DEsigner

Rick Bechtel is an industry expert with 7+ years as a kitchen designer. He brings unique insights to design thanks to his 15 years as a carpenter and contractor.

Rick believes in the importance of listening to the needs of the clients he works with. Utilizing his experience s a carpenter and contractor, he strives to make every layout as economical as possible through wise cabinet selection. 

Rick makes informed suggestions for products or features that can improve the cooking experience. He’s an expert in taking the dream items clients identify online or in showrooms and introducing options that better fit their design needs and are less cost prohibitive.

As a designer, he’s an expert on contemporary or transitional styles, light colors, and wood accents. 

Rick is passionate about woodworking and contracting but transitioned his career to spend more time with his children. He enjoys projects around his (or his children’s) house, and weekend trips with his wife.