Architectural Salvage – Art or Junk?

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.

Village Theatre – A Relic Brought Back To Life

A Relic Brought Back To Life 

The smell of popcorn is filling the air with a scent the residents of this community thought they might not enjoy ever again. But after more than a decade the historic Village Theater on Coronado is finally open again.

Plagued by problems including a building in severe disrepair, asbestos and, of course, funding, this re-opening has been long in coming. Most residents of this lovely island would walk by the shut up landmark, built in 1947, and have fond memories of going to a movie with family and friends. But for so many years the seats sat empty, rotting, a lonely, seemingly unwanted relic.

However, this treasure never unwanted, abandoned or forgotten. In fact, many in this community rallied around the theater like wrapping it in a blanket of love. Now, the transition is complete and the blanket is coming off,  revealing a 3 million dollar renovation that brings back the glory days of this beautiful old theater, only better.

There’s an Art Deco mural behind the concession stand, new carpet designed only for this theater, a state of the art sound system, and a new ticket booth out front reminiscent of days past. But the take-your-breath-away moment comes when you walk down the short hallway into the main showing hall. The murals on the wall are so magnificent I’m sure I’m not the only one who had tears well up in their eyes. On one side is a mural of Coronado and on the other is the downtown San Diego skyline. Both were clearly painted by a skilled craftsman that obviously fell head over heals in love with the old theater, because the end result is truly a labor of love.



I understand being completely taken with this old theater and being part of this grand opening for me brings back fond memories. My husband and I lived on this island when the theater was operating before and we would have ‘island night’. We’d walk down Orange Avenue, go to dinner and then catch a movie. It didn’t matter that the seats had so many holes that you had to bring a seat cover and do your best not to fall through. The sound system wasn’t that great and the screen had rips, tears and pieces missing. But, I think these were some of the most romantic nights I can recall in our long and wonderful marriage. We had since moved away but would occasionally visit, always saddened by the loss of our beloved theater. Recently, after deciding to move back to the island again, we were thrilled to see work being done on the place.

So, hand in hand he and I went to dinner and then attended the grand opening. The seats, perfect, plush and new were filled once again with families, kids and movie lovers young and old. Everyone attending was awed by the work and love put into this old place and moved by the commitment and passion put into the job. The smell of popcorn was wafting out onto the street for residents and visitors alike to enjoy and be enticed in. The ticket booth was open and probably the best part of the evening was that there was a long line of people wanting to buy tickets to get into the next movie.

For more information about the theater or to purchase tickets please go to

How to fall in love with where you live

Gloucester, MA

I’ve lived in over 12 different cities and towns in 6 different states in my life, traveled to every region of the country, been overseas numerous times (although not enough if you ask me) and have loved (almost) every place I’ve been. I’ve learned a lot, seen tons of sights and met wonderful people that have turned into lifelong friends. But no matter where I go I cannot get over how many people haven’t traveled or gone anywhere. What overwhelms me the most is how many people live in a city they’ve been in all their lives and they haven’t seen the sights that are right around the corner from them. They have a loyalty and passion for the city in which they live, but yet they don’t know the city at all. For example the people that have lived in New York all their lives and have never seen the Statue of Liberty.

When I move to a new city there are a few things I do to make sure I get the most out of it.

First I make a stop at the Visitors Center and contact the Chamber of Commerce…yes they still have those. These community service centers are there for you and have all the latest information on what to do, where to go, events that are happening and dining options. The publications that are put out have a wealth of information. I read through them and learn about what’s around me. My husband actually finds me quite amusing with these guides, because I get scissors and cut out all the things I’m interested in. The pile I keep on my desk is much smaller than all of the magazines, guides and books I initially brought home.

Next I take all the cut outs and put events on my computer’s calendar with alerts of when they will be. Festivals, craft fairs, street fairs, farmers markets, carnivals, museums and the like. I keep a book of the restaurants I’d like to try, categorized by type of cuisine. I also incidentally keep a book in my car and I write a quick little review in it from each restaurant I go to. What we had to eat, did we like it, name of restaurant and location and would we go back again. There is another section in my book for places to see. Sights not to be missed, tourist-y stuff and off the beaten path things you learn once your in a city for a while.

Lastly, I actually go to the events, the restaurants and all the sights in the city. Not all in one day, but over time. One this weekend, one next month, whenever. I find my favorites and go back again and again, different times of day or different times of year. Being a photographer, this allows me to get photographs that may be unlike any previously taken of that place, which is good because if a place is popular enough it will have been photographed millions of times. How many pictures have you seen of Times Square or Santa Monica Pier?

Going to the events and sights allows you to really embrace a place. See it from the eye of the tourist, and see why people come to the city you live in and why they come back. You have the inside track and if you have friends come to visit you then you know where to take them. Which places to avoid, perfect time to go, and best places to eat. You’ve basically become an expert in your city and community.

So go ahead and look beyond the borders of your front lawn and get to know your own backyard. It may even spur you on to reach even further and see the world. You may not end up moving to a new city every couple of years, but it will allow you to see your own city with new eyes and a renewed sense of loyalty to your city and community. Doing all this allows you to fall in love with where you live and renew your passion for that city over and over again everyday. Happy Traveling!

Helpful links- US Chamber of Commerce with links to every Chamber in the USA

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