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Architectural Salvage in Providence & Elsewhere

Jeanine and Harry James own New England Demolition and Salvage in East Wareham, MA. Along with other such businesses all over the country, they do a brisk business in everything from farmhouse sinks and clawfoot tubs to windows, doors, columns, architectural millwork and hardware.

I think there are a number of forces driving the newfound popularity of such businesses (you should see how the google searches for "architectural salvage" and related terms have increased in the past three years!). Certainly a sensitivity to waste as well as increased awareness of historical accuracy and more of an interest in restoration vs. renovation are a big part of it. The cost savings that spring from using salvaged materials are another, and possibly even more appealing for many budget-minded folks invovled in do-it-yourself projects.

  • Michael Mello has an article in the Providence Journal on the Jameses and a number of other architectural salvage firms in the New England area
  • InfoLink, an Australian architecture and design site, has a short article on the Australian Salvage Company, which looks to be one of the larger such businesses in the country, proving that this is not just an American trend.
  • In fact, the trend toward using salvaged materials for aesthetic purposes - not just stone and brick and beams, but millwork and fixtures and the like - is far more popular in the UK than it is here, proportionally. We recently ran an article on architectural salvage in Britain, with plenty of links to firms all over the UK.
  • Timothy Puko writes on an architectural salvage yard in Barnegat Township in the The Atlantic City Press; the same firm, Recycling the Past, is profiled by Shannon Mullen in the Asbury Park Press.
  • American Public Media recently had a radio program on architectural salvage in Baltimore, specifically a non-profit called Second Chance that rescues, rehabs and resells important bits of detail from buildings throughout the area. The program, with reporter Trent Wolbe, is available online in transcript and Real Audio form.