Old growth wood, from deep within the forest primeval. From fairy tales to an awed reverence in bungalow fans, the forest is endemic to the lore of humankind. Trees have been regarded as sacred in many early traditions. Since the dawn of time humankind has understood that his survival & that of the tree are interconnected- for shade, for food, for fuel & for shelter.
In old house circles, ancient wood is highly regarded for its strength & its beauty. I wrote an article about it & it is the most viewed post on my blog. That post discusses the properties of old wood, but in these videos, you are going to look at the forest & how it contributed to the wonderful characteristics of the trees & the lumber that was cut from them. 100 years ago, this lumber was used to build your house & today your house stands strong & sturdy.
You are going to hear a fascinating talk by a woman who grew up in the forest & listens to trees. She has learned the secret of how trees in the forest form a strong community, helping one another survive & grow, through communication & by passing chemicals & nutrients to trees in need.
You are going to find out how farmed wood differs from forest grown wood & why it results in inferior lumber.
You are going to see 100 year old logs pulled out of rivers to be milled into building materials.
OLD GROWTH WOOD VIDEOS
No matter how much you cherish your old growth fir, pine, oak – these videos will increase your understanding & appreciation for it immensely. The people who are speaking, are authorities in their fields & each one loves old wood. Let’s get started.
Goodwin Heart Pine on Dream Builders TV Show (5:22)
Pt.1 Introduction – Works of Heart – Goodwin Heart Pine (4:21)
Old-Growth Forests vs. Second-Growth Plantations (2:59)
Ancient Forest Alliance
What are Old Growth Forests? (2:44)
Harvard Museum of Natural History
Suzanne Simard | Mother Trees and the Social Forest (1:09:19)
Long Now Foundation
In this internet age, there is very little that you can’t find on YouTube so I have put together a list of old house restoration videos, arranged by skill/trade for you to view. Whether you plan to do a project yourself, or hire a professional tradesperson, it is wise to know something about what to expect & what you should expect. Hopefully, the people you hire are always looking to improve their knowledge & will be willing to watch these old house restoration videos to expand their skills.
The people who have made these videos are at the tops of their fields. They are experienced & skilled not only in their trades but also are good communicators & have stellar reputations for their abilities to teach others to do the work. They are also very nice people so their videos are pleasant & easy to watch. In fact, I watch them when I’ve had a bad day just to chill!
I’m not going to describe the videos individually because most of the titles explain the content. Just click & find out!
ARCHITECTURAL SALVAGE VIDEOS
The terrible tragedy is that old buildings will be demolished, by the short-sighted, by the greedy & the ignorant. We are fortunate that there are people who come in & save the beautiful bits & pieces & offer them to us. Even if you are not involved in a project for which you might need their wares, a visit makes an interesting field, or even a road trip!
Architectural Salvage tour- TREASURE HUNT! Finding clues from the past. (10:20)
Southern Accents and the Journey of Architectural Salvage (2:48)
This is Alabama
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!
I have curated a wonderful playlist of helpful & entertaining videos for your viewing pleasure. Bring out the popcorn & learn about everything from wood window repair to the history of the bungalow to how to take care of yourself when you dealing with the physical & mental challenges of restoring an old house.
I put a call out to my Facebook followers for their favorite bungalow architectural salvage resources. I have long been a fan of the idea of salvage, as well the the practicalities of the practice. In my previous article, I write about the cultural, economic & ecological benefits of salvage & in this article, I write about the ones that they recommend & ones at which I have shopped over the years.
I tend to get a bit mesmerized in a salvage shop. While you see a plethora of objects, of all ages & types, the story is incomplete. Riveted by these bits of story. I get unpopular pretty fast because I ask so many questions but I’m a woman who loves a story, mine or someone else’s, & I feel untethered when I don’t know the details.
Occasionally, it is difficult is even understand an object’s purpose! The object to the left, provided by Doc’s Architectural Salvation, is clearly a product of The Aesthetic Movement, an art movement in the late 1800’s which valued the beauty of the the applied & fine arts over any social ramifications. You have heard the expression, “art for art’s sake?” This philosophy was manifested in the work of the Aesthetic Movement.
(I’m rather partial to this design style myself, & my dishware at my home in Eagle Rock, the Hare House, was of an Aesthetic pattern. I displayed it on my plate rail in my dining room & heck if it didn’t look wonderful with my Craftsman built-ins & my Restoration Hardware, Stickley knock-off dining table.) But more importantly, what is this thing?
Now you know how I feel in a salvage store!
BUNGALOW ARCHITECTURAL SALVAGE RESOURCES ALL OVER THE COUNTRY
I’m going to split up the country into sections. As I hear from you (hint, hint-see the comment form below?) I will break it up by state. So let’s get salvage shopping!
ARCHITECTURAL SALVAGE SOURCES IN THE NORTHWEST
Established in 1999, Aurora Mills is a multi-facted store offering antique & vintage architectural items, lighting, reclaimed lumber, iron gates, doors, fireplace mantles- pretty the much the full array. They have an extensive website with a large online inventory as well as a tour of the warehouse which I opened on my big screen. Wow!!!
For the bungalow crowd, they carry Arts & Crafts tiles & other Craftsman pieces.
My Instagram pal, hosshouse1879 tells me, “They do an excellent job of organizing the materials that they have salvaged. If you go in looking for a house part, they know what area to go to & make the search pretty easy.”
Norm, the proprietor has a great affinity for Arts & Crafts & is always on the look-out for items appropriate to the bungalow. He has a good stock of lighting, doors & hardware for us & often has some furniture & even colonade sets that would we would love.
“We partner with communities to transform the home building and design industry into a circular economy.”
Referrer Amy K. says, ”It’s a fantastic place to just wander & look at all the treasures they’ve saved.”
So, I wandered through their website & found many items in their 50,000 sq. ft. jam-packed warehouse, in various categories that would be appropriate for bungalows, such as doors, windows, flooring, hardware, cabinets & cabinet doors, lighting, mantels, even kitchen sinks with drainboards (they come & go.)
In speaking with them I discovered that all items are on consignment, which encourages homeowners to recycle instead of contributing to the landfill. They even have several elderly pickers who bring things in to them to supplement their incomes.
In my world, there is simply not enough wacky so I’m a big fan of Schiller’s. My wood flooring company purchased reclaimed flooring from them & I was occasionally allowed to accompany my husband when he was there for a pick-up. It’s the sort of place that invites a long, quiet browse & husband wanted to get the flooring & scram.
Click on the PRODUCTS to see their array of items & don’t miss the Oddities page!
First of all, when you are on their site, you have to hit the OUR STORY link. The tale of this family business will both touch & amuse you. Dad started it out of love for salvage & over the decades, the business & the family just grew!
Martha L., my follower on Facebook says, “They have a huge selection & it is very organized. Their inventory is updated continually. Prices are reasonable.”
Speaking of huge selection, when you click the INVENTORY link, a full page menu drops down & each category displays another page plus.
Over 20 years ago, when I was restoring my 1910 Craftsman, the Hare House, I frequently visited Architectural Details in Pasadena, home of the Gamble House, the Blacker House, Bungalow Heaven & an glorious abundance of historic homes & commercial buildings. I was astounded that the huge space could not only be so full of old salvage, but so tidy & organized. The inventory was meticulously kept in an index of 3’X5″ note cards & there was nothing that was untracked or out of place.We drooled over the Batchelder tiles kept behind the counter wishing our fireplace was in need of mending.
A quarter of a century later, after the owner’s retirement, Architectural Details has morphed into Pasadena Architectural Salvage with just as many wonderful, orderly items (tracked electronically, I’m sure!). The folks here are very friendly & I’m sorry I’m so far away! However, looking at their website is quite the treat & even includes a couple Batchelder fireplace surrounds.
MORE! I WANT MORE!
I know that there are other great salvage outlets scattered about the U.S. & I want to know about them & why they are special. So plunk your magic twanger, Froggies & zip on down to the COMMENT section. Become visible. (For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, click here to see a click for a very strange children’s show in the 50’s. I shudder to think what the exposure of this to my 5 year old self had on my development.)
If you should be fortunate enough to have a bungalow, architectural salvage can be your BFF. Merriam Webster defines salvage as “property saved from destruction in a calamity (such as a wreck or fire).”
Cambridge adds, “to try to make a bad situation better.”
Not surprisingly, the derivation is from the French, “to save.”
Personally, I consider the destruction of a historic building, by Mother Nature, Father Time, or the hand of Man to be a crushing calamity & I have spent my adult life trying to get people to understand their value.You can read my story here.
There are so many arguments against it financially, culturally & aesthetically that it both puzzles & pains me that our built heritage is destroyed so casually. Whether by neglect, natural disaster or ignorance & short-sighted greed, the stories of our communities are turned to rubble & to dust.
Making lemonade, making “a bad situation better,” out of this sour mess, are those who are involved in architectural salvation. Architectural salvage involves carefully removing materials from a historic (or even a newer) structure that is going to be remuddled or completely destroyed. Instead of ruining these materials, & sending them to the landfill, salvagers give them a new life. Here’s a page of recommended by my Facebook followers outlets all over the U.S.
ARCHITECTURAL SALVAGE IS GREEN
The footprint of architectural salvage materials is generally only that of transportation, from the original site, to the warehouse, to the new home. (hm-m-m.) I don’t think transportation is figured into the numbers for the turbine or for the panels.) This of course varies considerably so I’m not going to give you any figures on this but I think you get it!
My buddy, Doc, of Doc’s Architectural Salvage and Reclamation Service, outside of Nashville, who provided me with all these gorgeous images, (including the PG one, is a master of the art. His well-ordered, abundantly stocked shop, Architectural Salvation is 38,000 sq. ft. of fine salvaged materials from homes, churches & commercial buildings & even ships. He & his crew have meticulously extracted these items from doomed structures, hauled them to his shop, cleaned & repaired them & offer them for sale to those who understand & appreciate their value.
I’m not going to try to ‘splain about Doc or Doc’s Architectural Salvation to you here when his website & social media do a good job of it. However, in the interest of full disclosure, Doc allows me to use his images for my blog & social media & buys me tacos when I visit him for the mention. I love tacos.
Please visit the BUNGALOW ARCHITECTURAL SALVAGE RESOURCES page to see outlets from all over the U.S. that were recommended by my Facebook followers. I encourage you to add the ones that you like the best too. Just scroll on down to the comments section.
I wrote the E-book, 7 VITAL Things to Do Before You Hire a Contractor, after reading terrible & sad stories on the old house, Facebook, group blogs. In every single story I could see the exact moment at which the project fell apart, the money got ripped off, the house got ruined, the heart got broken. After 45 years as a specialty contractor (wood floors) & old house restorer (5- here’s the most awful one!) I have seen my share of horrifying surprises, so I decided to write a little book in hopes of making someone else’s path a wee bit smoother.
I established my company based on the firm policy of always exceeding the customer’s wishes & any time I failed to do this, examined every step of the process to find out how I could make it better next time. It’s always easy to cast blame on the other guy, & with any failed job, there is always plenty of blame to go around. However, there was always some piece of it that I had to call my own whether or not it made me highly uncomfortable to do so.
So I took my experiences on both side of the contract to see if I could create some advice that would be useful to a homeowner when they leap off the cliff & hire an old house contractor. I’m a big believer in jumping off that cliff & building my wings on the way down, but it helps to at least have a bag of feathers & maybe some chicken wire before giving it all up to gravity.
This article is just a teaser. To get the whole book, you have to sign up for my mailing list. But that’s a good thing to do. You’ll like it!
HIRE AN OLD HOUSE CONTRACTOR- STEP BY STEP
You have purchased a 100 year old (give or take) bungalow. You have your home inspection in your hand & you want to move forward on your restoration. You are not a DIY’er & do not plan to be one. You have a demanding job, perhaps a family & other responsibilities. You’ll need to hire an old house contractor or contractors, & you’ll be depending on the kindness of strangers to turn your house into a home. So, how do you find the best strangers?
I wrote training manuals for 40 years so I am big on proper sequencing & I loves me a checklist. So here are my suggested steps.
What is a bungalow? What are best restoration practices?
What are your own needs?
How do I find good tradespeople?
What else do I need to know about them.
C. Go legal.
It’s only at this point that you start talking to people.
How do you conduct the first interview? What should you ask? What should you request?
The Proposal- what should it include?
How do I make sure that the restoration is satisfactory?
I go through each one of these steps in detail, in fact, each step is a section with sub-sections! I like to break it up to make it easy to understand & doable. I talk about your goals, your expectations, your money, & living life on a jobsite. I spend a great deal of time addressing the contract because that’s the basis of all that will transpire.
(That having been said, I am not a lawyer & this is not to be construed as being legal advice. As is the case with this entire book, it is friendly advice- my tale of what has & what has not been effective for me. While I’m at it, I will mention that I have done all the steps I suggest & still gotten a crappy project. ‘Tis the human condition but, when I haven’t done it, I have gotten a crappy project 100% of the time!
I have no training beyond what I got in a ballet studio, no credentials, no licenses, no nothin’ in the construction trades nor in law. I have only my experience from which I draw & I can boast of losing over $50,000 on a single project because the contractor should have been in jail!)
By attending old house classes, a conscientious steward can learn the basics of old house repair & maintenance. Owning an old house is not for sissies, nor for the uninformed. When I owned The Hare House, my 1910 Craftsman in Eagle Rock, I made some mistakes that I would have not made, & tossed away money that I would still have in my pocket, had I access to any of the education offered below.
Even if you are not a hands-on restorer, by inclination, aptitude (or the lack of) or physical condition, you need to have some knowledge of these skills.You can also use them to educate any trusted tradesman that you have working at your home to expand their skills. This can save you money & provide you with services to which you might not have access in your area.
I suggest contacting the event producer about any classes that appeals to you that might require physicality beyond your own capabilities, to see if they can accommodate you. They want you to learn so they will make it as easy as they can for you.
The best thing about attending is that it gives you the opportunity to meet like-minded folks. I have met wonderful people in my preservation activities & formed many strong friendships. I urge you to participate. It will enrich your life!
I AM FULLY AWARE THAT MY LIST IS WOEFULLY INCOMPLETE! Please let me know what I have missed so that I can add them.
The Association offers an extensive menu of seminars, webinars & hands-on workshops, designed to help you preserve & improve the appearance, usability & value of your home.
Though they focus on bungalow, they offer help to anyone who owns an old house of any style or age. They are some of the friendliest people in preservation that I have ever met. I have called them several times with questions regarding bungalow characteristics in the Midwest & they have always gone out of their way to obtain the information requested & relay it to me.
Take advantage of their many educational videos on many subjects, all beautifully & clearly presented.
Sign up for their email list so you can stay informed whether or not you live in Chicago! If you do live there, you’re welcome.
Bob Yapp, after traveling the country, teaching preservation skills, had the dream of establishing a hands-on trade school, delivering workshops to students of all ages, lasting from 2 day to 8 days. His students come from all parts of the world to learn from this master.
The Beleveder School is lodged in the historic brick, antebellum, 1859 Italianate, Alfred Lamb Mansion which also holds his wife’s bed & breakfast. Known for its delicious breakfasts, the B&B provides a wonderful setting for making lifelong friends.
“Whether you’re an individual or part of a group or business, if you believe in a future that honors our old buildings, beautiful towns, and our culture, you are a part of Rethos.”
Rethos is a non-profit organization offering hands-on & Zoom classes as well as informative videos to homeowners in all aspects of preservation. They are perfectly amenable to your attending a workshop without physically participating. You can learn a great deal by just watching! They offer classes such as:
Lead, Asbestos & Radon
Old Home Certified for Realtors®, a regional designation
Drafting a Maintenance Plan
Not local? You can see their educational videos here.
PROFESSIONAL (OR WANNA-BE PRO) WOOD WINDOW RESTORATION EDUCATION
This group, composed of the most knowledgeable people in the field from all over the country, is a trade organization dedicated to saving old wood windows. In addition to connecting pro’s with homeowners, they assist everyone from those who want to have careers in wood window restoration, to established pro’s.
The WPA provide resources & information on products & materials as well as general information on running a successful business. They also “help preservationists find the tools they need to educate building owners, architects, and other decision makers about the value of original windows.”
If you wish to host a old house classes, contact them to see if they could provide you with a speaker/demonstrator. If you, or someone you know would like to spend your life returning old houses to their former glory, they are standing by to give you the education & assistance you need to be a successful professional.
PRODUCE OLD HOUSE CLASSES IN YOUR AREA
I am working on a manual (It’s pretty close to being done.) for hosting such an event, laying out step-by-step what to do to choose topics, attract craftsmen & volunteers, promote it & make some $$$ for your organization, & run a smooth-running day of hands-on, old house learning.
The manual is divided into sections, & I have included a timeline that cross references the sections so that you can go step-by-step through locating a venue, attracting speakers & demonstrators, recruiting enthusiastic volunteers & promoting the event to the public.
Let me know if you or your organization is interested in learning how to host classes & I’ll get working on this thing a bit faster! I’m going to sell it for a whole $25.00 because if you pay for it, you’re more likely to use it.
LOCAL HISTORIC PRESERVATION ADVOCACY GROUPS’ CLASSES
Many preservation groups host classes so if you are interested in attending, contact your local group. I am building lists of such groups, but it’s taking a ridiculously long time to create such a list for all 50 states so if you don’t see it here, Google “historic preservation your city.”
If you are involved in a preservation group, please encourage them to host old house classes. It’s a good P.R. activity, will encourage membership & it also can raise some serious funds.
THE BENEFITS OF OLD HOUSE CLASSES
Even if you have no plans to live the DIY life, it is important to understand how your house works. If any of these topics interest you, but you don’t have the physical capabilities perform the work, most of them will allow you to participate as an observer.
These are also great learning sources for the tradespeople who work for you. You need to have someone you can count on who has these skills & it may be up to you to ensure that they get them.
There are young people all over the United States who would love to be trained in these trades & make this work their vocation. You can do your bit for preservation by letting them know about these opportunities. I have a book in my hip pocket that is about 50% complete, about how to run a successful specialty contracting business. My plan is to complete the dang thing & somehow raise the money needed to have it printed & then donate the books to high schools. So, someday I may be coming to you, asking for a hand-out & for your assistance in placing them!