Salvage Barn: Operation Preservation
While we are big proponents of restoring historic properties, we know that preservation isn’t always an option. Things like structural issues or land development can mean the end for longstanding homes, but even if the structure itself can’t be saved from demolition, the building materials and fixtures found in such homes are, in most cases, salvageable.
Organizations across the United States have created spaces where people can donate and purchase architectural items and building materials. Last week, we highlighted the Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity ReStore, a nonprofit home improvement store and donation center that collects and sells gently used furniture, appliances, fixtures, and construction materials. This week, we will be showcasing another organization that is working hard to give a second life to useful items that may otherwise end up in the landfill: the Salvage Barn.
The Salvage Barn — which is operated by the Friends of Historic Preservation — strives to preserve local architectural history by collecting and selling historic architectural building materials that are 50 years and older. While some items are donated by the public, most items at the Salvage Barn are salvaged by staff and volunteers from homes slated for demolition in the Johnson County area. Items found at the Salvage Barn can vary greatly — shoppers can find anything from hardware and light fixtures to doors, bathtubs, and more.
The Salvage Barn goes beyond simply selling items to community members — the organization wants to help you use the items you purchase. The Salvage Barn maintains an expansive Tool Lending Library, which is accessible to members of Friends of Historic Preservation. Curious as to what tools are available to borrow? Check out the entire inventory list — including chisels, drills, hammers, and much more. In addition to the Tool Library, the Salvage Barn hosts regular workshops that are open to the public. Past events have included DIY Salvaged Floor Collages, DIY Rain Barrels, and more.
In addition to providing homeowners with access to historically appropriate fixtures for their home, the Salvage Barn’s work has had an impressive impact on local waste diversion. The organization has been actively involved in the Iowa City landfill diversion program for over 20 years. In 2013 alone, the organization saved over 80 tons of priceless historical items from the landfill. However, donating to the Salvage Barn spans beyond the environmental benefit — it also means less work and more money for you! Utilizing the Salvage Barn will save you landfill dumping fees and all donations are eligible for tax deductions.
The Salvage Barn depends on volunteers to keep the organization thriving. Volunteers have the opportunity to get hands-on experience related to historic preservation, community building, and sustainability. There are many ways to help — past volunteers have helped by unloading donations, sorting merchandise, organizing the tool library, salvaging homes, and much more. Interested in becoming a volunteer? Check out the Salvage Barn website to learn how you can help.
The Salvage Barn, located at the East Side Recycling Center off of Scott Boulevard in Iowa City, is currently open Friday and Saturday 9–5 and by appointment on Sundays. Need inspiration for how to use some of your Salvage Barn finds? Check out the Urban Acres Pinterest board.