Architectural Salvage – Art or Junk?
Brackets, door knobs, spindels and glass are everywhere. There is peeling paint, brass and wood; distressed, worn and in need of love. Lots of things in here are in need of love, but that’s why they’re here…right? Behind the facade of a tired looking warehouse is a shop giving these wonderful objects a second, or third, chance. After all, someone loved these pieces enough not to trash them. They respected them enough to clean them up a bit and bring them here. The person that buys them is the next hero in the story, taking these pieces home and giving them a new life. This wonderful “junk” deserves another opportunity to serve its purpose, to decorate and to fill a space with beauty.
They say “they don’t make things like they used to”, and that is no more evident than here in this architectural salvage shop. Iron gates molded and shaped into scroll patterns and flowers, ornate in design and beaming with character underneath the rust. Copper switch plates adorned with beautiful patterns and designs, some with detailed flower designs that rival the beauty of any English garden. Stained glass windows with patterns and colors from every spectrum of the rainbow, hidden under layers of grime.
Why? Why don’t you see this work anymore? This is a lost art, at least this type of craftsmanship. The caloused, rough and stained hands that made these pieces cared about what they made. They were concerned about making something that would be functional and beautiful, something that would stand the test of time. Today, we get the big three choices at the home improvement warehouse of switch plates; plain in bright white, off white or (oooh, my favorite) almond. Craftsmanship was replaced with speed, efficiency and the lower-the-cost-the-better point of view. It’s too bad. Although I appreciate these qualities in a car maker, walking into this shop I realize what we’ve been missing. Entering here is a step back in time, to the way things used to be.
In comparison to these craftsmen, my hands have never seen an honest days work. Sitting behind my desk with my computer and phone, being tired at the end of the day, doesn’t compare to the workmanship on display here.
Sure you see artists at arts and crafts shows, but these days it’s all paintings and jewelry. They seem to pale in comparison to me. Especially these days when booths are stocked with items bought wholesale over the internet from China or Vietnam. Not that these products aren’t nice, but why go to the show when I can find that stuff at Walmart?
Well, you won’t find the items in this shop at a discount retail store, that’s for sure. Art should be prized in this country like it is in so many other countries. This store is salvaging art, not just brackets and old doors.
This shop is as American as it gets. “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure”, isn’t that what they say? Find that junk and capitalize on it, now that’s the American way. Well they are capitalizing on it and they should be. These people are providing a wonderful service, preserving the art of our past and breathing new life into the work painstakingly created by men long ago.
So get out some sand paper, cleaning cloths and paint buckets. Head down to the Architectural Salvage shop in Little Italy and buy a piece of art for your home that you will treasure and enjoy for many years to come. Trust me, it will hold up better than any almond colored plastic piece at the warehouse store and be so much more beautiful.
If you think about it, your getting a real bargain. We pay hotels huge sums of money for these little details in our room and we’re only staying a night or two. Why not enjoy these luxuries in your own home, everyday.
When I was in the store my friend texted me to ask what I was doing that day. I told her that I was in an architectural salvage store looking around and taking pictures. She retorted by asking if ‘architectural salvage’ was another way of saying I was in a junk yard. I laughed, and I suppose some would agree that it was a junk store, but I’ve never seen such lovely junk and to me I was walking through an art gallery.