If you’ve spent any time on my blog or Facebook page, you’ve probably figured out that I’m a fan of architectural salvage… I’ve made baluster lamps… I’ve got a penchant for antique key plates… suitcase tables with spindles for legs… and I sniff out salvage shops wherever I go (Savannah, Nashville, etc.). Of course, I tend to gravitate towards smaller bits for my projects…but I constantly marvel at what others do with doors, mantels, even old staircases.
So when I stumbled across Encore Architectural Company’s shop in Saint Matthews, South Carolina, I was floored- pun intended! In fact, I may have even made an abrupt, illegal U-turn in the middle of the road because I was blinded with excitement!
My decision to take the back roads that day turned into a thrilling discovery. I knew it was the perfect opportunity to learn more about the business of salvage- and to shine a little light on a fantastic, like-minded shop located in my own backyard.
Curious? Let’s go…
If you were on Twitter and had to describe Encore in 140 characters, what would you say?
I need two tweets!
- Encore Architectural Salvage Co. embraces a passion to bring forgotten pieces of architecture and wood back to life with a bit of creativity.
- As a small business, we strive to bring life to your home with the use of one-of-a-kind recycled material.
How did you first get into the business of deconstruction and the design of new pieces using the salvaged material?
I was working in Law Enforcement in Auburn, Alabama, and performing handy-man task on my days off. I was inspired by a man named John Marsh from Opelika, Alabama, who had a stock pile of architectural salvage he had obtained from remodeling older rental properties that he owned. He opened the doors to my understanding of recycling older, forgotten material that would mostly go to local landfills. Gradually, through his inspiration, I began researching antique lumber and architectural salvage. Inspired by its beauty and endless possibilities, I began creating one-of-a-kind pieces from dining room tables to custom mirrors using only salvaged materials. I opened Encore as a small rented booth at an antique store in Opelika, Alabama to display my pieces. When I met my wife, Georgia, she gave me the confidence to pursue my carpentry work, bringing me to South Carolina and starting Encore Architectural Salvage Co.
I love architectural salvage shops, but know NOTHING about the process of deconstructing an old house or barn. What is the basic process you go through?
First, we have to locate the deconstructions. We usually advertise ourselves as an alternative to demolition. This brings us business from structures involved in Trusts, Land Clearing, Land Sales, Insurance Issues or people wanting to gain something they can reuse out of a structure they own. We often work with the owners to leave them something to reuse or build them a custom piece out of the material we salvage.
After this, we begin the deconstruction. First, we gut the entire structure so all that is left are the studs and floor systems. Then we take it down from top to bottom, opposite from how it was built. This gives us the opportunity to salvage the most material. We do it all by hand so it is very labor intensive. When we get through salvaging, usually all that’s left are the pillars or blocks that the structure was sitting on and occasionally the chimney. We then bring in a bobcat and remove any concrete or bricks and smooth the land like nothing was ever there. A typical 2,000-square-foot structure usually takes us 14 days from start to end.
What are your favorite pieces that you salvage from old buildings?
My favorite part about salvaging is not knowing what I will find. Every piece excites me, from the outside siding, to the cast iron tubs, to the large beams at the end of the salvage. The most exciting find is finding a piece I haven’t salvaged yet. After over 30 deconstructions, I still find new architectural or antique pieces that I have no idea what it is. I am still waiting on finding that hidden treasure chest under the floor or in the walls.
And you also create furniture and home accessories using parts you’ve salvaged- that must be so satisfying…hence the name of your business, “Encore”. What are your favorite pieces to create?
I personally enjoy designing the industrial furniture. The mixture of antique wood and steel is my newest passion for now. I enjoy doing custom pieces for customers, but creating is my overall passion. So when a customer comes in and gives me and idea of what they want, and just says design it yourself, then I get excited.
So, how is the best way to check out your goods?
We have a store front located at 1628 Bridge St. in St. Matthews, SC. We are open Wednesday-Saturday from 10:30 till 6:00 pm. Folks can come and browse wood samples, doors, mantles, beams, hardware, tubs, sinks, furniture, shutters, window, etc. We have samples of lumber and store only certain materials; we warehouse the rest. Customers can buy one board or 1000 boards, we sell it all. You can also see what we are doing weekly on our Facebook page, or visit our website www.EncoreSalvage.com to see items we sell and get pricing. We also do a show in Atlanta at Scott Antique Market the second weekend of the month. At this monthly expo, we sell some of our most unique salvaged items as well as a wide range of industrial furniture and custom wood pieces.
What else should we know about Encore?
Encore is a small business consisting of 2 full time employees and a deconstruction team. I have poured all I have into this business and want it to succeed and plan to expand with a second location this year in the Charleston, SC area. We price our items so everyone can use our products. We need the support to continue to grow and expand our knowledge of recycling and recreating. Salvaged material has so much potential, and every day I strive to show people this. Encore is here to help preserve history and making it tangible. Call us (843-518-1162) with and questions, deconstruction opportunities, or deconstruction advice.
I love, LOVE knowing the backstory of pieces I purchase from salvage shops- so I obviously love that Encore is cradle… to grave…to reborn excellence! I bought a trunkload of goodies last time I was in the shop, but I am positively JONESING to go hunting for more.