Who is Mark Bowe?
Born on 5th March 1970, Mark Bowe is a successful businessman and TV personality, probably best known for his work on the Magnolia Network show “Barnwood Builders”. With the slogan of “Work Hard. Be Kind. Take Pride”, Mark’s hard work and perseverance saw him study a bachelor’s degree in business administration at West Virginia University, even while working as a coal miner.
The self-proclaimed craftsman and amateur break-dancer also holds a master’s degree in safety management from WVU’s College of Business. In 1995, he founded Antique Cabins and Barns, which was expanded into Barnwood Living two decades later. An avid historian, Mark also enjoys doing speaking engagements when not filming.
The documentary series “Barnwood Builders” follows a team as they convert historic log cabins and barns into modern houses. The Silent Crow Arts production, which premiered on 1st November 2013, is broadcast on Discovery Channel, the Magnolia Network, and Great American Country.
Mark’s team specializes in restoring and reclaiming pioneer era structures in the eastern area of the US, and the program’s simple but effective premise has drawn in millions of viewers around the country.
Sean McCourt is the narrator, while Johnny Jett, Sherman Thompson, Tim Rose, Graham Ferguson and Alex Webb are all longtime cast members. With the exception of Alex, who joined in the third season to replace Brian Buckner, “Barnwood Buildings” has always had the same cast.
In the season six finale, the production team switched things up, and had the Barnwood Builders – who were joined by special guests – sit down to discuss their work as well as reveal previously unseen footage.
The last two episodes of season seven saw the builders take on their most challenging project to date, and construct an enormous timber frame house for Project Healing Waters, a charity that helps veterans recover from battle injuries, also such as PTSD.
In the first episode of season nine, Mark worked with administrators and teachers of WVU to build a cabin that displayed the history of America’s early days.
Mark is clearly fond of his birthplace, and is quoted as saying in an interview: “I want to champion West Virginia. I’d like to change the stereotype of the word ‘hillbilly.’” Apparently, the network wouldn’t let the cast members use the word in the first season, but soon changed their minds. According to the TV star, being a hillbilly means “strong ties to family and friends, a willingness to do hard work, and things like perseverance and fortitude”.
That’s right; the cast of “Barnwood Builders” are all self-confessed hillbillies and proud – and speaking of cast members, fans thought that Brian had died due to his sudden disappearance after season two. When the show failed to comment on his absence, rumors of his death began circulating the internet, with netizens finding an obituary for Brian Buckner.
However, the truth came out when the show’s cast were deluged by tweets asking for an explanation.
MSN reported that a cast member confirmed Brian was in good health and still alive. Apparently, the builder didn’t return for season three of the show because he moved away from West Virginia. Evidence points to Brian not liking his newfound fame, especially when one takes into account that he has no social media accounts, and never came forward to dispel the death rumors.
With that said, the show’s social media team left the door open for Brian to return, with a Tweet that reads: “Brian is no longer in the area Rick, so he’s too far away to work with us! We miss him a bundle. Hopefully one day he’ll join us again.”
There is a plethora of little-known facts about the show which fans are always delighted to discover. For example, Mark isn’t just hosting and leading the building team anymore: during an interview with Greenbrier Valley, he said that he was now one of the producers.
“Every show has a story arc that I help develop,” he explained. Apparently, Mark informs the producers about the families featured in each episode, the crafts that will be filmed, and if there are any challenging parts coming up.
Although the show is filmed entirely in West Virginia, the Barnwood Builders have also completed projects in Missouri and Texas. The show actually came about thanks to a chance encounter between Mike and a client, who came to his office saying he wanted a cabin in upstate New York. The TV host shared his background and history with the man, who turned out to be a film producer working for Ken Burns.
Viewers often wonder how Mark finds the properties he renovates. Despite the enormous free publicity “Barnwood Builders” generates, Mark finds most of his projects via word-of-mouth, speaking to people in his community, and showing them what he does. According to the show’s website, many of the projects are also available to be rented by the public for short stays.
Another interesting tidbit of trivia is that the pilot for “Barnwood Builders” was shot in 2005, almost a decade before the show would air. In a conversation with Richmond Magazine, Mark said that the pilot was a 20-minute documentary, that was subsequently entered into some film festivals.
Mark’s wife, Cindy Lavender-Bowe, was born in 1971 and was a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates in representation of District 42. She assumed office on 1st December 2020, and left a year later. The beautiful redhead also ran for re-election to the House of Delegates to represent the same district, but lost in the general election on 3rd November 2020.
Cindy is a definite mix of brains and beauty, as she earned her bachelor’s degree in social studies education from WVU’s Institute of Technology in 1993, and also pursued a master’s degree in leadership studies/educational leadership and administration from Marshall University in 2010.
Cindy’s previous professional experience includes working in non-profit management, and as a teacher with Kanawha County Public Schools.
In 2019, Cindy was assigned to the House Education Committee, the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, the House Health and Human Resources Committee, and the Small Business, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development Committee.
Mark and Cindy have one adolescent son named Atticus. Before expanding the family, the couple moved to Lewisburg in 2001, after making a couple of weekend visits and discovering that the town was a great fit with their lifestyle. “I had an office downtown, and my clients would fly in from all over the country,” Mark explained. “We’d do whatever was happening around town… They were always impressed.”
American pioneers were the African-American and European-American settlers who migrated from the Thirteen Colonies, and later other eastern states of yhe US, to develop areas of North America previously inhabited by Native Americans.
Despite being associated with the Western US, it’s since been discovered that many places in the Eastern parts of the country were also settled by pioneers. Daniel Boone, a famous American pioneer, settled in Kentucky when it was still undeveloped. The Homestead Act, which provided formal legislation for the settlers and regulated the process, was key in the development of the Western settlement.
The pioneer is a recurring figure in American literature and folklore. “The Deerslayer”, written by James Fenimore Cooper in 1841, became one of his most successful works, and was based on the pioneer life in the Provinces of New York.
The characters of the enormously successful “Little House on the Prairie” series, which was set in the 1870s and 1880s, were also pioneer families, and Davy Crockett has gone down in history for being a real-life pioneer icon.
The first westward migrations were a consequence of the representatives of the Thirteen Colonies seeking new lands westward of their territories; the Land Ordinance of 1785 was the first time the federal government decided how to handle the political organization of new territories. Two years later, the Northwest Ordinance declared that states could not individually claim new lands, and that the government would be in charge of exploring. However, as the federal government had little control over these lands, it wouldn’t or couldn’t legislate how to claim and distribute pioneer lands until 1804’s Land Act.
The government encouraged western settlement, with the War Department commissioning Randolph B. Marcy, Captain of the US Army to provide a guide for those who moved west.
The guide provided stopping points during travel, and gave advise about how to interact with Native Americans, how to respond to threatening situations, and what to bring on the grueling journey.
This process was repeated in many ways, such as Oklahoma’s Land Run of 1889: when parts of Oklahoma’s territory were first opened, anyone could come and claim land on a first-come, first-served basis.
Most pioneers travelled in wagon trains containing settlers and their families, banding together to join forces, because they believed there was strength in numbers. While pioneers in the East had to clear the land due to the dense forests, their Midwestern counterparts were tasked with bringing agriculture to the barren Great Plains. Although the majority of pioneers wanted to claim land and settle their families, others travelled west for commercial reasons, and stayed permanently if their businesses were profitable.
Despite prospectors, miners, trappers, and cowboys also being popular figures in American culture, the pioneer represented “those who went into unexplored territory in search of a new life, looking to establish permanent settlement”.
Where Are They Now?
Fans will be pleased to know that the Barnwood Builders are thriving on- and off-screen: Mark has a few keynote speaking events lined up for spring and summer 2022, and is enjoying family life with his wife and son, as can be seen on his Instagram profile. Mark also loves to post snaps goofing around with his cast members – the shared camaraderie between the group is clearly visible.
As for the rest of the close-knit cast, it’s business as usual between filming. Johnny, the eldest cast member at 71, is enjoying a tranquil lifestyle with his loved ones after moving from bustling Chicago to West Virginia a few years ago. Although he posts sporadically on Instagram and mostly uses the platform as a means to promote his work, he can occasionally be seen in the official Barnwood Builders profiles.
Tim, who joined the crew in 2006 and has since become one of the series’ main characters, doesn’t seem to have any social media accounts. The TV star is known to be a skilled trapper, hunter, trader, fisher and cook, and also worked as an aircraft mechanic for a decade before becoming a Barnwood Builder. Online posts indicate that he’s married, although it’s unclear if he has any children.
Alex, who joined the cast in its early days as a locomotive engineer, is a Monroe County native who trained in the military, then worked as a lead engineer for Norfolk & Southern Railroad before lending his talents to TV. Despite vague online reports citing his exit from the show, an Instagram post from Mark announcing the new season premiere on 7th April 2022 shows the whole cast happily posing together.
Graham, a former landscaping expert turned television producer, is also inactive on social media but will be returning for the show’s next season.
Reliable sources confirm that Graham and Mark happened to meet through their children, who attend the same school. Graham’s wife is named Shannon, but the couple guard their children’s privacy fiercely, and have yet to share any photos.
As for Sean, the talented producer and writer is most probably busy with other projects right now. Some of his earlier works include “Garbage Moguls”, “Mad Scientists”, and “The Bait”. Sean was born on 19th January 1971 in Detroit, Michigan, and currently resides in South Orange, New Jersey, with his wife Beth and daughters.
Sean’s first acting credit came in 2001, playing the psychopathic and drunk Dr. Thomas Parker in the Off-Broadway musical “Batboy: The Musical!”. Having worked alongside Kaitlin Hopkins, Kerry Butler, and Deven May, Sean is the only cast member with prior experience in the industry.