Rotten floors, sensational doors
Twenty years ago, rotten floors and wayward customers turned prospective antique dealers Marion Ogden and Dennis Maggard into architectural salvage entrepreneurs.
Before opening Bearly Makin’ It Antiques, the pair needed to replace rotted sections of the floor in the former Beaston Market building on Marion’s Main Street.
“We were so cheap and poor, we wanted to find some stuff to go back into the store to make it look old instead of new,” Ogden said.
They stripped old flooring from five or six old houses, and while they were at it, they salvaged a variety of architectural pieces.
“It was too good to throw away,” Ogden said.
They put the materials in the back of the shop and, before long, noticed people wandering past the antiques to ask about prices for windows, headers, doors, pillars, and porch posts.
“We ended up selling more salvageable stuff than we did actual antiques,” Ogden said. “We figured that’s where the money was.”
They quickly outgrew the antique store and have two other locations where they store and sell architectural salvage.
“I sell lots of stuff to people out of state in metropolitan areas who can’t find the stuff, and if they can find it it’s extremely expensive,” Ogden said. “They’ll drive 200 miles to come to our place to buy architectural salvage, and we’re glad to have them.”
Ogden has everything from small decorative hardware to a 16-foot bar counter.
“Actually, I buy too much stuff that’s really big,” Ogden said, “but that’s the stuff that eventually will sell for good money.”
As trends come and go, what Ogden sells changes, too. A recent hot item was doors.
“When we got to 300 doors, Dennis said we’d better stop buying these doors. Now we’re almost out of doors, because the in thing is to put a door on a wall and make a headboard out of it.”
Ogden and Maggard find it harder to get architectural salvage than when they started.
“How many old farmhouses or barns do you see out in the county that are still there?” Ogden said. “They aren’t there. How many actual farm sales are left? There aren’t that many.”
Ogden loves what he’s doing, and doesn’t plan to retire any time soon.
“It’s a matter of what Dennis and I can continue to have fun doing,” he said. “In this business, I have a job for as long as I live.”
Antiques furnish home improvements
Mark Whitney stumbled onto a unique addition for Peabody Hardware and Lumber many years ago.
“A friend, Greg Topham, was building a house and liked the look of old wood and vintage doors and fixtures. We talked about how hard it was to find the kind of wood and craftsmanship that went into so many of the older homes around town,” Whitney said. “One thing led to another and we soon discovered that it was pretty easy to find architectural salvage like Greg was looking for.
“He used quite a bit in the home he built and it is really nice. So we just kept looking for it and collecting it. It wasn’t hard to find people who wanted to buy it.”
Whitney’s hardware store has a large open second story. The area was perfect for storing doors, windows, porch posts, trim, dimensional lumber, and even staircases.
“At one time, I bet we had 200 doors up there,” he said.
He and Topham would contact people who were tearing down a house or building and arrange to go in and purchase the pieces they thought might be useable. Eventually word spread and people with old structures began to seek out Whitney and Topham to see if they still wanted the salvageable parts.
“It was better when people knew we were interested,” he said. “We had more time to do the work carefully. Pulling 100-year-old trim or baseboards from wherever they’ve been anchored can cause the wood to split and crack. It takes some patience. We also liked to get the hardware that went with doors or windows — even when they were buried under layers of paint.”
Whitney estimates the last salvage project they took on was about six or seven years ago. He said that at first there were some great old places worth the work, but they have become few and far between.
Whitney said pricing the architectural salvage is based on the condition, how unusual or ornate it is, and extras like hardware, frosted glass, or brass fittings.
“We haven’t sold too much lately,” he said. “But it is like anything — it runs in cycles. And one thing about it, no one is making it today like it used to be made so I’d guess there are more buyers out there.”
He said one of the most interesting sales he made was to an Arizona woman who hoped to build a house using lumber and fixtures from a century-old home.
“She was on a buying trip, stopping in small towns and talking to hardware store owners and builders, hoping to find the kind of doors and trim and such to suit her,” Whitney said. “We went upstairs, she picked out what she wanted, paid me for all of it, and came back later with a big truck to take it home.”