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Salvaging history

If you blink when you drive by the Architectural Salvage Warehouse on the corner of 3rd Avenue and Depot Street, you might turn the corner and not even notice it. But behind that padlocked door is an amazing caché of relics from leveled historic structures waiting patiently for you to make them part of your home.
“Even though this building is not much to look at from the outside, there is a treasure trove inside that they can explore,” said Justin Sanders, preservation field services representative for the Heritage Alliance.
The warehouse became a necessity as more area properties were salvaged and people became increasingly interested in using salvaged materials for historic restoration or reconstruction in their own homes.
“We needed a facility to keep it all together,” Sanders said. “It was becoming harder and harder to take them to four or five different attics and six or seven different barns to look at materials, so we came into possession of the warehouse about 10 or 15 years ago.” The warehouse has been in business for more than a decade, and over the past three years, Sanders has been working hard to make the building more accessible to the public.
“We brought new stairs in, we got a sign on the building about two months ago,” he explained.
And all the materials have been inventoried, priced and labeled to make it easier to shop around.
“It makes things very easy for people who come in here looking for (specific) materials,” Sanders said.
Using salvaged materials is often viewed as expensive and extravagant. But prices at the warehouse are kept deliberately low, and all proceeds go directly back into various regional preservation projects. Sanders said he wantss to supplant the myth that restoration is only feasible for the wealthy by offering high quality materials at reasonable prices.
“Now, what we’re looking at in this economy is people are repairing more, people are taking better care of what they have,” he said. “And this is a way that people can reuse these materials and get them at a low cost. These doors, windows and bricks have been decades in the making, and they have lasted that long, and they are going to continue to last with the proper maintenance and care.”
Reusing salvaged materials is also a great way to shrink your carbon footprint, Sanders added.
“This is the ultimate form of recycling. It’s a very environmental and green movement to do salvage,” he said. “So there are options (here) for people who are looking to make their home more energy efficient, keep historic integrity and save a little bit of money at the same time.”
The Heritage Alliance also provides measured drawings of structures that were taken down to accompany salvaged materials from a specific property to help interested parties reconstruct an entire building.
But your investment in history can also be piecemeal, which is what many patrons at the warehouse choose to do.
“More often than not it’s a door here or a window there, or some brick for reconstructing a wall, or some stone for doing a masonry wall,” Sanders said.
Even taking just one salvage item home allows the story of a structure to live on indefinitely.
“We’re going to get the investment we have in a piece of history back, and the perpetuation of that for future generations is the ultimate payoff for us,” Sanders said.
The Heritage Alliance will be holding an open house at the Architectural Salvage Warehouse on Saturday, May 29 from 12-4 p.m. Interested parties who are unable to attend the open house may make an appointment to visit the warehouse by contacting Sanders at 753-9580.