This past week took us to Tuscaloosa, Alabama on what most would think an unlikely salvage mission. A 1950’s apartment complex on the University of Alabama’s campus is about to be torn down. In its place, new apartments or condos will be built that will house future University of Alabama students. The apartment complex is not impressive from the interior or exterior view. The doors are not decorative, nor do they have ornate carvings. They aren’t really attractive… just your standard 1 and 2 panel doors. There was a lot of tarnished brass hardware but nothing outside of the ordinary. Many might wonder why we would waste our time on such a menial project?
Architectural salvage is often thought of as the large, heavily carved doors, decorative wood mantels, ornate ironwork and gingerbread trim from elaborate Victorian homes and historical mansions. Architectural salvage is all of the above, but encompasses so much more. Any structure that has been built potentially contains goods that can be salvaged and reused: doors, cabinet hardware, baseboards, wood floors, bath fixtures, chandeliers, newel posts, staircase spindles, windows, trim, and ironwork. Usually, even the most humble structures contain architectural salvage that can be repurposed and given a new life.
This apartment complex, for example, is full of painted wood trim that is in a Shabby Chic condition. Even though the wood trim is plain, the patina of the aged chippy paint covering the wooden boards is highly sought after. Everyday wear and tear of daily use, coupled with exposure to the sun, creates an unique texture that can only be obtained over time. These old boards will be salvaged and turned into something new such as picture frames, bulletin boards, chalk boards, table tops and other DIY projects. All it takes is a creative mind to imagine the numerous possibilities.
One of the items that we returned with from Tuscaloosa were these interesting knobs that we removed from old gas wall heaters. The knobs grabbed our attention, because they are shaped like footballs. While these knobs have probably been forgotten by those who once used them, maybe catching a glimpse of them will ignite a memory of a special time in their life. A memory of a cold November morning getting ready for the Iron Bowl or an all night study session for that last final before Christmas break. The memories evoked by these old but simple treasures are as special as the items themselves. As Southern Accents rescues these items, the story of their past is protected and their new story begins.
We are hanging on to a few of these “football” knobs ourselves, but are sure that the rest will be put to good use by someone with a creative idea. That’s all it takes, one idea and a little initiative to see an old simple item reinvented. Each idea, put into practice, serves to save one more door, or knob, or chippy paint piece of wood from our landfills. Our mission statement is to rescue, restore and protect architectural elements of historical significance. Simply put… “we save old stuff.” Fancy or simple, historical register or not, built in the 1800’s or 1950’s… quality materials that can be repurposed and given a new life do not need to end up in a landfill.
We invite you to visit our showroom or website and consider salvaged goods for your next project. Our inventory changes daily. Whether you are looking for that ornate mantel or a simple door to use for your latest DIY project, we are sure that we have just what you are looking for!
By: Lisa Jones