By Carole King
Preservation in Recycling Form!
As city budget cuts took their toll on our operations here at Old Alabama Town, we looked at innovative ways to produce income and become more involved with the preservation community. Several years ago, Landmarks Foundation initiated an innovative recycling historic preservation project called Rescued Relics to compliment our restoration efforts. While restoring and maintaining the 50 historic structures located at Old Alabama Town, many interior and exterior later-added components were removed to accomplish an authentic restoration on the house museums. These leftovers were just taking up space and collecting dust in out of the way storage places. We had heard about several salvage warehouses operated by non-profits on the east coast and starting investigating the possibilities.
Landmarks established Rescued Relics, a not-for-profit salvage business located in a still yet-to-be-restored vacant 1920s warehouse in an excellent storefront location on Madison Avenue, and yes, the roof still leaks. We began cleaning out our attics and warehouses for items to sell and now offer many historic architectural elements and materials from a variety of building styles and time periods to those who are working on other renovation projects around in the historic neighborhoods. Rescued Relics also frees up much space in our increasingly overcrowded municipal landfill.
We wanted to become more involved in the historic neighborhoods and provide a service to those living in Midtown. Without keeping regular store hours, we’ve had a sort of slow start, but we now have a commitment to Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays with two dedicated volunteers, Roger Ericson and Larry Grewelle. We’re looking for more volunteers to help us expand the operation even more — and it’s a great job for retired folks and those interested in home renovations (You get first chance at the incoming merchandise).
In its high profile location on Madison Avenue with the front doors open and welcoming, we have an increasing number of customers who were just curious about the warehouse itself, but everybody finds it hard to walk out without purchasing some fun piece of ironwork for your garden or that odd sized piece of marble you thought you would never find. Although our target market is historic homeowners, we have developed a customer following of creative and artsy folks just looking for inspiration and direction for that next project!
Rescued Relics also accepts pre-1960s building materials and elements from other contractors and do-it-your-self home renovators with tax-donations available to the extent of the law. All these funds raised are used to restore and maintain the historic structures at Old Alabama Town.
Rescued Relics’ inventory includes (but is definitely not limited to) assorted sink styles, doors, lighting fixtures, mantels, window sashes, balustrades and many other fun items that tickle our shoppers’ creativity!
As historic preservation is the ultimate recycling and salvage hunting is quickly approaching an art, we have included some handy tips below for those bargain hunters:
- Plan your renovation project but be prepared to make many changes.
- Start looking early for special accent architectural elements.
- Familiarize yourself with local building codes and obtain all necessary permits.
- Have access to a pickup truck.
- Keep a list of room measurements and of certain items for which you are searching.
- Create a file of magazine pictures and photos of projects that you’ve seen and liked.
- Carry a tape measure with you at all times.
- Don’t hesitate! That special item is one-of-a-kind and probably will be gone tomorrow.
Rescued Relics is conveniently located in historic downtown Montgomery at 423 Madison Avenue with plenty of parking adjacent. Call 334.240.4512 for the hours of operation or we can set up an appointment to see all of the really cool and fun items that we have that you never knew you really needed!
Carole King enjoys midtown living from South Capitol Parkway in Capitol Heights where she has lived for 25+years. Carole has been the historic properties curator for the Landmarks Foundation that manages Old Alabama Town for 28 years and is passionate about neighborhoods, their architectural character, their people, and their preservation!