Architectural Salvage Review / New England
{07 april 07}

As mentioned in previous posts, Mr. Limestone and I share a strange fascination with old things. So when we realized we were headed up in the New England area for another occasion, we added a few days to our trip to dig through some of the big architectural salvage shops in the area. If this topic holds no interest for you, I suggest you not bother reading my long winded review below. If you're on the hunt for bits and pieces of old homes like us, then I hope this helps you direct your efforts if you find yourself in our shoes.


We had some hits and some misses but I think we found a few places that we will return. Much like any store that sells a random collection of unique items, its often a matter of timing so we don't hold anything against the misses. Maybe we'll have better luck next time at those places. But I think the general info about pricing and selection we learned on this trip is indictative of what the store has to offer when we return.

We went in a wacky order so I'll just do the recap from north to south-ish.

Portland Salvage & Antiques
Probably the most picturesque salvage store - kind of like the ones you would find in a This Old House magazine story. Its housed in a big building and has several floors to browse around. Its a little more antiques than salvage from what we could see so there wasn't much "loot" for us. And their prices were on the high side. So while very pretty to look at, it doesn't get a high rating for their selection or value. A nice plus is their location is right in a beautiful city full of good seafood and other activity so its not a wasted trip even if you don't buy anything there. Portland also is home to Decorum and Nostalgia Lighting - they sell new stuff that works nicely in old homes.

Old House Parts Company
Now we're talking serious salvage. Big old barn like structure holding a very well organized inventory of salvage house bits. They have a front area that set up like a store and then a back and upstairs area that's more like a storage room - and you can browse around all over. Points scored for friendly kitty that welcomes you at the front door. Nice selection of stained glass windows and doorknobs. Not much in the plumbing department. The guy running the store that day was friendly and helpful but wasn't too willing to bargain which surprised us a little. So high marks for selection, a mixed review on prices as some things seemed high and some things seemed fair but we assume little negotiating room based on the one thing we purchased. Definitely worth a return trip despite its slightly out of the way location.

Victorian Lighting
Not really a salvage store but a few minutes from Old House parts is a store devoted to old lighting. The place is JAMMED with fixtures and the owners were quite helpful even though our purchase was tiny (just some porcelain sockets to retrofit a light fixture we had bought elsewhere on this trip).

Vermont Salvage
Located in a small town in Vermont, this place is what I think most renovators imagine as a true salvage place. Not much in the way of merchandising or creature comforts, its got good stuff all around at fair prices. A huge kudos for the price labels on almost everything - it makes me a lot more willing to shell out some bucks when I know what everything costs without having to find someone to help me. While its not perfectly organized, its easy enough to find things. Large but not daunting, it has a good selection in all categories with a few fun finds thrown in for good measure (like the scary dentist chairs). The only bad thing I can say about it is that there is no heat and it was freezing but their website warned us of the cold and we were prepared. So bring your gloves when you go shopping. We bought this light fixture that needs a bit of TLC but I really love the look.
Was tempted to try to persuade Mr. Limestone to get that marble double sink too but I don't think it would fit in the car and I wasn't in love with it enough to have it shipped.

Vermont Salvage's other store in Manchester
This much smaller outpost of Vermont Salvage is in New Hampshire. Its more convenient location is a plus, their prices are very fair and the guy running the store very friendly. Again, this is true salvage. Their selection is a lot more limited due to the smaller size so this is luck of the draw but its worth a stop. We picked up a pair of the medicine chests pictured above that Im hoping I can refinish and use in our master bath. They were cheap enough that it was worth a try.

Nor'east Architectural Antiques
This place is huge so we had high hopes. A good example of how a lot of space doesn't necessary translate into a lot of selection. Perhaps we were there on a bad day but we found that there was a lot of empty space and the stuff that was there wasn't very competitively priced. They did have a big room of salvage wood which might be of interest to some and worth a call if you are looking for something in particular. Otherwise, we didn't find anything worth writing home about here so likely won't be back.

New England Demo & Salvage
This is where we ran into a little bad luck. Our trip just happened to coincide with this salvage shop big move from their old location to the new. Their absolutely HUGE warehouse was still in the process of being filled from their old location so we didn't get to see all the goods. Their grand opening hadn't happened yet so much of their sale items were still on a truck being transported and a lot of the lighting that illuminated what they did have was yet to be installed. That said, even with a more limited inventory on display, they have an entire warehouse floor filled with clawfood tubs, old sinks, radiators and other plumbing finds. Just a sea of old plumbing to choose from here. Pretty impressive to look at. If the lights had been working, we would have probably picked out a pedestal sink or two for our house. But because of not being able to fully inspect them in the dim room, we weren't brave enough to take a chance. They have a "small" (relatively small compared to the size of this place) area that sells antiques. We didn't get a great sense of the pricing, the few things we did see prices on seemed reasonably. We'll definitely be back to check out the fully loaded store.

All in all, it was a very good trip. We came back with the light fixture and medicine cabinets mentioned above as well as decorative top to the stair newel post that is missing its head. We didn't find a pedestal sink I was searching for but that was mostly because of my fear of commitment to a sink. We have a few more things we need (that we didn't know we needed at the time due to a change in the plans) but now we know where to go the next time we head out.


  1. Anonymous10:58 AM

    Oh, I love the Kennebunk part of Maine; I didn't even know they had that many stores of this sort (although I wouldn't have since when we went we lived in a rented apartment). There are a couple of stores like these in the area I live and I always find myself disappointed by the selection and/or the price. One place was charging $1k for a Victorian claw foot tub that needed some serious loving. They can get away with it out here though since everyone wants this stuff and *someone* will buy it (just not me).

  2. Anonymous9:58 AM

    Thanks for your kind comment on my blog.. I'm in the process of reading through yours and had to comment on this fabulous post - so useful and informative, I'm thinking Jeff and I need to make a trip up to Massachusetts (closest to us in NY) and check out the last one you reviewed.. maybe make a weekend getaway of it. You've also inspired me to search for some salvage stores closer to home in NY..know of any?

  3. Purplerocks5510:26 PM

    Wow! I live right in white river junction and I love that salvage store! So cool that you have visited my area!


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