- Associated Press - Sunday, October 18, 2015

VINCENNES, Ind. (AP) - The Vincennes Preservation Foundation is well-known for its efforts to save historic structures and dedication to preserving history.

But there’s more to the organization than that.

For several years, the foundation has also been salvaging not just homes, but items from those homes and other buildings doomed to face the wrecking ball. The items are kept in a couple storage units around town and the collection is open to homeowners tackling their own fixer-uppers or renovation projects.

The stockpile got started back in 1990, when Vincennes University began demolishing properties north of campus.

“We were worried so much about so many of them being demolished that we asked (VU) for permission to go in there and do some salvage work,” said VPF member Susan Grow, noting that the foundation always gets approval before rummaging through a property.



After the group salvaged some materials, the collection was born. Most of the things they rescue are from the late 1800s or early 1900s, though some items are newer.

And the foundation doesn’t just collect items from homes; it’s done salvaging at the Catholic school and parsonage buildings in St. Francisville, Illinois, before the structures were demolished. The group recovered so much material from that site that it had to expand into a second storage unit.

The collection has gotten to the point where some materials have to be stored by individual members of the foundation, Grow said.

There’s a wide variety of items. There’s a bathroom lavatory sink; hardwood moldings, trim and baseboards; a fireplace mantel; miscellaneous wood; door frames; interior, exterior, screen and pocket doors; light fixtures; door hardware; and “windows, windows and more windows,” according to the VPF’s salvage warehouse flier, just to name a few.

The foundation has used some of those salvaged items for various projects, including the interior restoration of the Dale House at Second and Hart streets, and members plan on drawing upon the materials again as they works on the Libby House at 104 Seminary St.

Grow has even used some of the materials for her own projects, including the restoration of the house she currently lives in that was built in 1913.

In fact, that’s part of the reason why she’s involved in the salvage effort.

“I could see how useful those materials were to me so I’m paying back my debt,” she said.

The foundation’s collection is not new, by any means, but not many people know it exists. That’s because the items the foundation has saved are often difficult to advertise.

“We don’t have a very good way of displaying the things we have,” Grow said. “It’s a little bit of a hassle.”

Since the foundation can’t very well lug the salvaged materials all about town, whoever wants to take a look at the collection has to visit to one of the storage units.

“A lot of people don’t want to go through the trouble,” Grow said. “We’d love for people to come and take these things and use them in their own projects.”

The foundation’s primary purpose is to preserve history and that’s one reason why it’s worth saving these old materials. But Grow also said it’s important to salvage them because during restoration projects, replacing features that match the era of the building can often be extremely expensive.

“If you want to match the doors in your house, if you have a broken door or one that’s ruined, it’s very expensive to buy new ones,” Grow said. “If we can save some of these old materials and make them available to people, they’re more likely to use a (period-appropriate) door than go out and get something that doesn’t match.

“It pays to talk to us if you need something. We might just have it.”

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Source: Vincennes Sun-Commercial, https://bit.ly/1VO4gwF

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Information from: Vincennes Sun-Commercial, https://www.vincennes.com

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