Cypress is moderately strong and stiff and is among the harder of
the soft woods. Durability is its most outstanding quality. Along with
redwood and cedar, it ranks highest of all woods in ability to hold paint
but has the disadvantage of being slow to season.
Seasoned cypress heartwood ordinarily will resist decay almost
indefinitely whether exposes to earth, water or air and because of its
almost indestructible qualities it has been called "the wood eternal."
King Solomon, Hiram of Tyre, and the Greeks and Romans used
cypress in their buildings. A statue of Jupiter carved from this wood is
known to have stood for 600 years without sign of decay. "Gopher
wood," referred to in the Bible as the material used in constructing the
Ark, is thought to have been cypress.
The cypress doors of St. Peters Cathedral, when removed by Pope
Eugenius to the middle of the fifteenth century, were said to have been
100 years old at the time and are still perfectly preserved. The doors of
Santa Sabina's Church in Rome were built of cypress in 425 A. D. and
demonstrate to this day in the lasting quality of the wood.
When the old Spanish executive mansion, erected at St. Augustine
during the latter part of the sixteenth century, was finally remodeled in
1936, the original cypress timbers were the only wood in the building free
from termite attack. The original cypress lumber in the oldest wood
house of America, built at St. Augustine more than 250 years ago, is still
in good condition, and the cypress doors of the old Spanish fort are well
preserved after 250 years of exposure.