Historical Association’s Architectural Salvage Sale

This contribution is from Laura Ketcham, Editor of the Federation of North Carolina Historical Societies‘ Bulletin.  (The fuller story appeared in the Federation Bulletin, Vol. 28, No.1.)

According to the Moore County Historical Association’s website, “Our dreams are ambitious, but the Association has a history of doing the seemingly impossible through sheer enthusiasm and hard work.”  An exemplary episode of that history occurred in 2006 and 2007, when the Historical Association held architectural salvage sales. 

The 1915 Prizer House, demolished in 2007

 Why?:  In 2006 the group learned that a church in Southern Pines was planning to tear down four early twentieth-century houses to make room for an expansion.  The structures could not be moved off the church’s property and relocated because city statutes prohibited the removal of the large trees that would have prevented vehicle access.

Silver Lining:  Historical Association leaders, disappointed by the prospective loss of their community’s historic architecture, decided to make the best of a bad situation and enable the houses to become, as one trustee termed it, “old house organ donors.”  With the church’s agreement, wood flooring, windows, millwork, appliances, and more found new life in and around other Moore County homes.

Logistical Points: 

  • The Historical Association found that a website-accessed silent auction worked better than an in-person sale with preset prices.  The group found it to be more fair to prospective buyers than first come, first serve, and the auction generated more proceeds. 
  • Buyers were responsible for removing the items from the houses themselves; most buyers had experience with restoration and so this requirement was not a problem.  For those unable to remove puchased elements, the Historical Association supplied a contractor at an additional charge.
  • Buyers had to sign a waiver, based on a similar one Habitat for Humanity gives its volunteers, stating that they would not hold the church or the Association liable for any injury resulting from their salvage activities. 

Worthwhile Results:  Besides the additional funds that the Historical Association earned from the sale, the Moore County story had many happy endings.  One new house was specifically designed to highlight the diamond-shaped, multi-paned windows salvaged from the Prizer house.  A sidewalk in downtown Cameron now contains bricks from the exterior of another demolished house, and several area homes incorporated old heart-pine floors from the salvage sale.  Ultimately, the Historical Association furthered its own mission by facilitating the preservation of parts of local historic houses, despite the destruction of the wholes.


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This blog will contain posts from the C2C project staff on a variety of topics related to collections care and disaster preparedness. Enjoy the posts and let us know if you would like additional information or have a topic you would like for us to address.

Posted on November 14, 2011, in collections management, guest bloggers, historic houses, public programs and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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