Architectural salvage tourism?
September 13, 2015 1:01 PM   Subscribe

I have a Victorian house in Southern California and am interested in restoring it using period-appropriate house parts. These are in short supply in my area and most architectural salvage places are not so internet-savvy, so I'm wondering if there might be a part of the country within road trip distance where the pickings are better.

I think I'm looking for an area that meets the following criteria:

1) Within 1000 miles or so of Los Angeles.
2) There are lots of old falling-apart Victorian or Craftsman style houses.
3) Real estate is relatively cheap, or there at least isn't a seller's market of wealthy people fixing up their estates and snatching up any bit of cool old house they can find.

I would like suggestions of general areas to look into, or specific salvage yards or marketplaces to check out. I'd be looking for small items like door and window hardware all the way up to things like doors, window sashes, porch columns, gates etc. I'm more interested in picking through big unsorted piles of torn out junk in various states of usability than I am in antique/vintage stores showcasing pre-selected items, but would welcome good examples of either.

If you think this plan is doomed (e.g. because salvage brokers already know where all the good stuff is and grab it to resell in wealthier areas before anyone else sees it) but you know another good way to get cheap old house parts, you can certainly let me know about that too.
posted by contraption to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
If you are willing to drive that far, you should check out Urban Ore up in Berkeley. The stock is more craftsman than victorian but it's a salvager's delight.

There's also Ohmega Salvage, which is smaller and more curated but has some interesting stuff.

These aren't dirt cheap, things have already been sorted into "windows," "hardware" but far cheaper than an antique store or vintage market.
posted by paddingtonb at 1:18 PM on September 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

You really should have a look at Hippo Hardware in Portland Oregon. Old house parts abound! Just about exactly 1000 miles BTW.
posted by Zedcaster at 1:33 PM on September 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Berkeley of course. Start with Urban Ore.
posted by parmanparman at 2:18 PM on September 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Salt Lake City, a truly incredible place, Chris's at 9th South., just west of 5th east. A huge warehouse of mantels, cabinets, doors, tubs; fixtures of all kinds random windows and stair railings. All from victorians and arts and crafts in the Salt Lake Valley. many one of a kind screen doors, lights, items galore. A maze of sorts.
posted by Oyéah at 2:59 PM on September 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

FWIW when I lived in Brooklyn, where restoring old houses was invented, there was a guy selling architectural salvage out of a garage in my neighborhood, for dirt cheap. I absolutely don't believe that this is something you can't find in Los Angeles. You might need to put your ear to the ground a bit more than just searching Yelp, but this stuff has got to be around if you know where to look.

(I'd start with the more downmarket flea markets. If you see something you like that is a bit expensive or not exactly what you're looking for, talk to the vendor and get a sense of who else they might know, where they get their stuff, etc.)
posted by Sara C. at 3:26 PM on September 13, 2015

Take a weekend and drive through the Gold Country in Northern California. I haven't specifically looked for this kind of thing in a long time but my recollection is that Murphys in particular has so many little salvage stores that the prices are kept very reasonable.
posted by janey47 at 4:22 PM on September 13, 2015

Crown City Hardware, Pasadena.
posted by ApathyGirl at 5:48 PM on September 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

The Rebuilding Center on Mississippi Ave. in Portland, OR. A bit further than 1000 mi. away, but they deconstruct old houses and then put the salvaged bits up for sale. So much stuff in my restored 1907 house was found there.
posted by djinn dandy at 6:12 PM on September 13, 2015

Thanks for the leads! Salt Lake City is an interesting suggestion, I might be there for a training seminar soon and will try to make time to do some reconnaissance. It looks like the bulk of the recommendations are located in the PNW, so maybe I'll have to try to hit them all in one whirlwind trip!

Sara C., do you have a particular salvage yard or marketplace to recommend? I own an old house in the region and work with builders of upscale homes, and the general impression I have is that the demand for antique house parts so far outstrips the supply that any demo project involving old salvageable stuff gets swarmed by brokers immediately and dumped into a pipeline that funnels it to interior designers in Bel Air, Montecito and the like. This isn't Brooklyn and there never was a time when it was built up with houses in this style, consequently there's just not as much salvage floating around. I'm not in LA proper though, so it's possible there are resources I'm unaware of and I would love to be proven wrong. I do know about Silver Fox/Salvare which is pretty close to what I'm after, I'm just hoping to find lower markups by not shopping in Silverlake.

ApathyGirl, Crown City's website seems to show only new reproduction products rather than antique/salvage goods, do they also have a salvage operation?
posted by contraption at 7:58 PM on September 13, 2015

Silver Fox' prices were pretty reasonable when they were in Boyle Heights, but I haven't visited the new store. Their stock comes from the east coast.

Looks like a preservation group in Riverside is making salvaged parts available to homeowners a couple of times a month.
posted by Scram at 11:17 AM on September 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Hey, sorry I didn't see your reply.
Crown City does specialize in historical reproduction, but what comes with that is years and years of helping people in Pasadena/Altadena restore their historical homes. If anyone knows where to get original bits and bobs, they would.
There's also a historical lighting place in town.. OH! I totally forgot about these folks!
Pasadena Architectural Salvage
posted by ApathyGirl at 10:16 AM on September 25, 2015

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