I have never acquired an old house that had its original wood window screens. Makes sense. They are rather flimsy items that have maximum exposure to the elements & over the decades, windows fail & the harnessing of electricity has made it possible to use HVAC systems to cool our houses. Opening windows has fallen out of favor as people have come to believe that a house should be all buttoned up & air tight. And with the abandonment of fresh air has come the abandonment of wood window number tacks.
Being the daughter of a gardener, I like to bring the outdoors in so I like to restore my windows & build new wood screens. My little fur friends enjoy sniffing the great outdoors & I kinda live to make them happy.
The tricky part of making these screens is that old houses are seriously out of plumb & the windows vary in size, perhaps only gently, but enough to make it impossible to install a screen to a random window. Each screen must be custom made (measuring twice!) & then it belongs to that window.
I have a sensitive sniffer so I like to have clean screens & the best way to clean them is by removing them & then spraying them with a hose. Of course it’s easiest to pull them all off a side at one time, line them up & squirt them, but how do you keep them sorted? And right-side-up?
For you folks who live in regions that require you to use storm windows, necessitating a bi-yearly swap, this little trick will save you a great deal of time & aggravation.
USE WINDOW NUMBER TACKS
Invented in 1948, these cute & handy little items were used to mark windows with their matching storm windows in winter or their screens in summer. They are little, very sharp tacks made of a metal alloy with numbers stamped on their heads. The stamping is heavy enough that you can paint & disappear them, but remain legible. A tiny barb under the head ensures that they will stay in place.
They are produced in sets that are numbered from 1-25 & second sets if you have more windows (Most bungalows do!) that is numbered from 26- 50. You purchase a set for the windows & a corresponding set for the screens & another for your storm windows, should you have them.
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/interest for you to view. Whether you plan to do a project yourself, or hire a professional tradesperson, it is wise to know about bungalow, their history, their features. It’s also a good way to educate the people that you hire who might be looking to improve their knowledge & would 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 areas but also are good communicators & have stellar reputations for their abilities to teach others. 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 link 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.
From their framing to their siding to their doors & windows to their built-ins & their flooring, our old houses, are built of old growth wood. Thousands of board feet of it.
“Old growth.” What does that mean?
Let’s have a tree history lesson. Fossils show that the first tree-like plants, with vascular systems that transported water & nutrients, allowing the plants for the first time to rise up off the ground (Think moss.) & to form trunks & branches, developed 400 million years ago. Their evolution since then included the development of seeds & true woody stems.
Over 300 million years ago: The earliest conifers (i.e., cedar, fir, pine, redwoods & others) appear.
67 million years ago: Evidence of the first maple trees.
56 million years ago: Evidence of the first oak trees.
They continued to evolve & to create the great forests that covered most of America, generation after generation contributing to the next as they produced seeds, died & decayed, becoming part of the rich soil of the virgin woodland.
REDWOODS- THE LONGEST LIVING OF OLD GROWTH WOOD
Let’s start with the Redwood, one class being the oldest plants on earth, living from about 800 to 3,200 years. On the west coast, before they were chopped to build our houses, they played an important part in the lives of early indigenous peoples who revered them, building structures from fallen trees. Native elder Minnie Reeves called them “a special gift from the Great Creator. Destroy these trees and you destroy the Creator’s love . . . and you will eventually destroy mankind.”
When California became a state in 1850, there were nearly 2 million acres of redwood forest. San Francisco was built twice with redwood, before & after the quake & fire of 1906. But the worst was yet to come. During the first half of the 20th Century when California experienced a major building boom, the redwood forest suffered its greatest losses, with trains of lumber heading south as trains of oranges headed north.
Going into the 21st Century, only 5 percent of the old growth forest still stood, thankfully protected on public lands.
In modern times, redwood farms produce wood for lumber, however, this new wood does not have the same high levels of toxic tannins, a type of bitter, astringent chemical compounds which protect the trees from fungus & insects & decrease its susceptibility to rot.
Selective cutting of young trees is permitted on redwood farms but these trees do not have enough age on them to acquire the decay & insect resistant properties of the old growth. If you want the original, old growth wood, you must buy it second-hand, salvaged from old buildings that some uninformed person has chosen to demolish.
OTHER OLD GROWTH CONIFERS IN OLD HOUSES
The Douglas fir forests of the Northwest were treated just as casually. The timber industry, both logging & milling’ developed into a huge industry. The quantities were regarded as unlimited, if they were regarded at all in the push to maximize profit. As harvesting & transportation technologies developed, so did the quantity of forest land destruction increase.
It wasn’t until the 1880’s that conservation of timber supplies was considered. National forests were established & research into good forest practices began.
The Domesday Book of 1086, a survey ordered by William the Conqueror to record his holdings, indicated a forest cover of 15%, By the start of the next millennium, this coverage had dropped to 5%.
In the 17th Century, as thousands of colonists arrived in the United States from England, they placed heavy demands on the forests taking huge trees, some hundreds of years old, of many species for lumber not only for building but also for fuel. Additionally, they cleared lands for agriculture & livestock.
Additionally, after the Industrial Revolution, potash, potassium carbonate derived from burned wood was in high demand in the colonies & in England where they had already decimated their forests. By the early 1800’s, the pre-revolutionary American colonies were providing England with more than 60% of its potash.
The construction boom after WW I, especially during the mid-1920’s, furthered reduced our forest resources. You can read about pine’s story, in the forests of the Eastern U.S., here.
FARMED WOOD VS OLD-GROWTH WOOD
Trees are planted in man-made forests with the purpose of generating a large amount of product, fast. These farms do not replicate the ecology of the natural forest. Generally they are one species only, & all the trees are planted at the same time. The trees are planted in rows spaced to allow maximum sunlight & water exposure so they grow very fast. The old forests allowed trees to grow slowly, putting on more tightly-packed growth rings
Because of this, new growth wood does not have the strength, stability nor the decay & insect repelling properties of old growth wood- not to mention the beauty. But. stick with me here. I have a theory about additional environmental factors that made the virgin forests a much better place for trees.
The conditions in the old forests had evolved over millions of years. Co-evolution is the evolving of all the parts of an ecosystem to assist each of its parts survive better. i.e., evolutionary change over time, benefiting each interacting member, usually involving different species. Tree farms lack this dynamic. They are the new kids in school without a support system, not oriented to their environment, & growing in unnatural conditions.
The virgin forest is home to many tree species as well as hundreds of different insects, animals & microbes. All of these organisms have made reciprocal adaptive changes in cooperation with one or more other species, over the millennia, helping one another to survive with greater & greater efficiency.
Much of this mutual adaptation involves microorganisms, the fungi that break down the fiber of the dead trees & turn them into nutritious soil, but also form a communication network for the trees. Watch this short video by National Geographic that explains how trees connect & share with one another.
Trees do not stand alone, competing with one another for sunlight, water & nutrients. Rather, the forest is almost like a single organism, the different trees interacting with one another, both within & outside their own species, through their roots & the fungal networks that connect these roots. They exchange communication & nutrients through this network, with the larger, old Mother trees forming the hubs. As an example, Douglas firs share excess sugars with the leafless birches in the spring & fall, & in return, the birches send sugars to the Douglas-firs in the summer, via the fungi underground.
Here’s my crazy theory. The health of the human body depends on the quantity & diversity of the microbes that live in the gut. To build a strong, healthy body, one needs a strong healthy microbiome- the colony of microorganisms within the body. This is a lovely short video of 2 Stanford researchers who have discovered much of what is known in this science. They have a big picture of bacteria over the fireplace in their home.
My hypothesis is that lumber from a tree grown in the virgin forest is better, stronger, more stable, more decay & insect resistant not just because it is old & bigger, but because it has grown up with a Mother, a family, neighbors & friends in the form of an active ecosystem that has had millions of years to get it right. “It’s not better because it’s old, it’s old because it’s better.”
What do you think?
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON OLD GROWTH WOOD, VISIT OUR OLD HOUSE RESTORATION VIDEOS- OLD GROWTH WOOD here.