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It pays to recycle old buildings

"You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone." This old axiom rings true in many facets of our lives, and is especially evident when dealing in the business of antiques. But beyond the widely appreciated antique collectibles and furniture items...

"You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone."

This old axiom rings true in many facets of our lives, and is especially evident when dealing in the business of antiques.

But beyond the widely appreciated antique collectibles and furniture items, there is another facet of historical preservation and reclamation that is really gaining in popularity - architectural salvage. It is the saving and preservation of the structural components of buildings.

The "deconstruction" instead of "demolition" of old buildings is becoming more common, as the monetary and aesthetic value of their components are being realized. For an owner, it produces material/product to sell, reduces disposal fees, conserves natural resources and reduces landfill use.

These old pieces can be used for historical re-creation or purely be decorative. So, besides bidding on the contents of an estate, we are taking notice of the walls, floors, beams, doors, fixtures, windows, wood, glass, iron, plaster and stone pieces that make up the home.


At Lucken's, we have some pieces of architectural salvage - when we get them in they sell quickly - and are looking to collect more.


One interesting story is one of a sale in Kindred, N.D., where we picked up a stack of old ceiling tin. We will sometimes take a journey out of the area to shop for unusual items that we haven't been able to find locally.

One weekend, two summers ago, we took a road trip to Kindred. We started out early on a Saturday morning and made it to the sale just as it started. At first glance we were disappointed and thought we may have made a mistake to come this far.

We really couldn't see anything that would be of interest to our local shoppers. We decided to stick it out and see what would happen. The sale was in a big old building and we had to go outside to use the port-a-potty.

As I was outside I saw a trailer full of old stuff. I thought it looked interesting so I started digging. Underneath all the salvage was a pile of old ceiling tin. One of the things we have learned over the years is that this type of history is collectible.

TreasureThe auctioneer advertised them as old ceiling tin that came out of an old school house in Kindred. Most of the pieces were in remarkable condition and could be used for many different things.

The pieces measured approximately 3 feet by 6 feet and had beautiful designs on each piece. We bid on the whole pile, won, loaded them up and brought them to the store.


We used some pieces for decoration on the building and on the ceiling and we used a piece to replace a door on an old armoire. The traffic started and the interest came pouring in.

We sold several pieces to different people in Fertile, Minn., and then took some to a Detroit Lakes, Minn., flea market. One lady shared her great idea of using the tin piece as a headboard in her master bedroom.

Other optionsSome other forms of collectible architecture are old fireplace mantels, old house beams, spindles from old staircases, grill covers, old knobs and old hardware on doors, switch plates, which come in many different materials.

The options of what to look for and what to do with the old pieces are unlimited. Prices for these types of desirables and collectibles vary, as in all collectibles, on rarity, condition, versatility of the uses, availability, age, design and uniqueness.

The real thingThere is just no substitute for the beauty of vintage patina. The quality and craftsmanship of old pieces is almost impossible to replicate and their distressed features and style are windows into history.

Finding and using these architectural treasures requires a good eye and patience, but the end result is usually worth the work and wait. The journey in unique endeavors such as these can bring as much enjoyment as the final product.

At Lucken's Collectibles, as we "recycle the past," we appreciate the beauty of these unique pieces, and receive pleasure in finding them new homes.

The creativity of people in this rural community never ceases to amaze us.


Lucken Hanson owns Lucken's Collectibles in Fertile and Cuellar works with her. Store hours are 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Phone: (218) 945-6660 or e-mail at: collectibles@gvtel.com

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