Hunt for treasure at architectural salvage stores.
IT’S ALWAYS SAD TO SEE A GREAT OLD BUILDING COME DOWN. BUT ONE silver lining is the thriving marketplace for architectural antiques and artifacts. These fascinating warehouses are filled with hardware, doors, lighting fixtures, staircases, wainscot, windows and bathroom fixtures, all from houses and buildings that have been carefully dismantled for parts that can be used again.
Look to the following places in the Boston area to find pieces of the reusable past, often made with craftsmanship and materials that simply do not exist anymore.
Pieces of the Past
RESTORATION RESOURCES IS OWNED BY BILL RAYMER AND MANAGED by Walter Santory, who has been in the business since he was 16 and was part of the crew that disassembled the old South Station. “We have the heart of Boston here,” says Santory. High-end hardware (doorknobs, hinges, pulls and handles), mantels and lighting are some of his customers’ favorite finds. You’ll find yourself lusting for copper transom windows from the Longyear estate in Brookline on Fisher Hill. Look for granite building details, as well as wall-mounted radiator covers and stairway parts (including beautiful newel posts), columns and building tiles. Claw-foot tubs and old pedestal and marble sinks are just begging for a new home.
Restoration Resources, 31 Thayer St., Boston 617-542-3033
A True Original
MOST OF CHRIS MCMAHON’S CUSTOMERS ARE HOMEOWNERS WHO are passionate about their projects. In a building that used to be the Merrimack Farmers’ Exchange in Exeter, New Hampshire, is Architectural Salvage, where McMahon stocks doors, window sashes, newel posts, fireplace mantels and surrounds, corner blocks from ¬buildings, glass tiles, tin columns—even a whole room of colonial paneling from a farmhouse in Dover, New Hampshire, built in the 1700s, for $7,000. “If people want something off the website, they just call,” says McMahon, who notes the most common “old” thing people put in a new house is a front door. A piece he’s proud of is an 1883 desk with a sink under the writing surface—a “transitional piece,” he says, because it came between the basin and indoor plumbing—selling for $3,900.
Architectural Salvage, 3 Mill St., Exeter, New Hampshire 603-773-5635, www.oldhousesalvage.com
This Older House
THE BUILDING MATERIALS RESOURCE Center (BMRC) in Boston carries donated quality building materials. The nonprofit organization offers two price tiers: regular—which is ¬bargain-basement range—and half-price if you qualify. The BMRC’s hottest items include kitchen cabinetry, especially from more recent homes. This is not where the antiques are—but for $150 you can buy a beautiful mahogany mantel and use it as a headboard.
Building Materials Resource Center, 100 Terrace St., Boston 617-442-8917, www.bostonbmrc.org