WHAT’S OLD BECOMES NEW: New England Demolition and Salvage owner Harry James has about 500 clawfoot tubs, and thousands of other items, in his New Bedford warehouse.
PBN PHOTO/BRIAN MCDONALD
By Patrick Anderson PBN Staff Writer
Some house hunters will search far and wide for certain vintage details or fall head over heels for a property with the pristine clawfoot tub or stained-glass window they’ve always dreamed of.
But fixing up a rundown Victorian isn’t the only way to get vintage charm in your home as long as you’re not bothered if your original details were originally somewhere else.
At his New Bedford warehouse, New England Demolition and Salvage owner Harry James presides over about 500 old clawfoot tubs, and thousands more other items, in the largest dealership of vintage furnishings in the region.
“The older the better,” James said about his approach to salvage. “I don’t consider anything an antique.”
Row upon row of sinks, doors, windows, fireplace mantels, doorknobs, radiators, columns and ironwork fill the warehouse like a graveyard for departed homes.
With new home construction still lagging in most of New England and remodeling taking a larger share of residential building projects, demand for vintage and salvaged materials remains strong.
New England Demolition and Salvage moved to the 80,000-square-foot former Berkshire Hathaway mill from Wareham, Mass., in 2007, not long before the real estate market nosedived.
But the company survived the recession while competitors fell away. The nearest is now in Boston, and now James said New England Demolition is growing again. To supplement sales for home improvement projects, the business recently opened a theatrical prop-rental operation serving movie sets in the region.
“Since the economy has gotten better, people are remodeling again,” James said. “Every year we do better.”
While salvaged hardware grows in popularity and remains much less expensive to procure than equivalent new items, architects say using vintage materials becomes difficult on larger projects.