THE TREASURES WE FOUND
Architectural History Lives On Through Galveston Area Salvage Yards
Story and photos by Marsha Canright
Life is like a box of chocolates, and so are Galveston area salvage yards. “You never know what you’re gonna get,” but imagine coming home with actual paving stones from the 1859 Ashton Villa, the first house to ever be built on Galveston’s Broadway Boulevard.
Our mission — to uncover architectural treasures from yesteryear — took us to the Architectural Salvage Warehouse, located on the first floor of the 1940 Sears building and operated by the Galveston Historical Foundation, as well as to the Antique Warehouse and Big House Antiques.
Whether embarking on a new build or adding a touch of historical flair to existing construction, incorporating architectural elements from days gone by is a creative and unique way to repurpose the past.
ARCHITECTURAL SALVAGE WAREHOUSE
Our trip to the GHF salvage warehouse – a cavernous space at 23rd and Broadway – was a trek through time. Rows of shelves house dusty artifacts neatly organized in like categories: shutters, windows, doors. We uncovered steamer trunks, stained glass, pocket doors, shutters galore, and even a prayer rail from Annunciation Catholic Church in Houston.
“We receive donations and salvaged materials all the time so there’s always something new and intriguing to see,” says Nick Barbee, manager of the warehouse.
“One man brought us an entire trailer of gingerbread decoration from a Victorian house on Avenue P and, just this week, a man brought in two matching chandeliers,” he adds.
The warehouse is open on Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. They do have expanded hours during summer months. GHF does pickups in Galveston, nearby towns, and in Houston. All proceeds from the warehouse help support Galveston Historical Foundation’s efforts for preservation and conservation.
Stepping into Antique Warehouse is a walk on the surreal side of salvage. It’s a Mad Hatter’s tea party with antiques, oddities, architectural salvage, and the kinds of tiny items that you need if you are restoring an old house – just the right three- by three-inch medallion or a claw foot for a sofa.
Revolving fans on the 20-foot ceiling keep air moving through row after row of stock. We found a pair of majestic columns from the Harry Rice estate, a seahorse birdbath, a French hand-painted bed from a Galveston estate, mirrors, old bricks and plaster department store legs for showcasing shoes.
A standout item is an East Lake tester bed in burl walnut with matching armoire and dresser, all from a Galveston home.
What the hodgepodge of items has in common is they appealed to Scott Hanson, who owns the warehouse with his wife Holly.
For years, Scottie perused the alleys and garage sales of Galveston looking for interesting items. He still does alley jaunts but the couple also purchase estates and salvage from Galveston and county teardowns. Additionally, Scott creates his own furnishings from salvaged wood.
“Most everything we have is local although we do go to New York State each summer – it’s where I’m from – and we do some picking there,” Holly says.
Antique Warehouse is open from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
BIG HOUSE ANTIQUES
It’s not a salvage yard but Big House Antiques, a local favorite for two decades, is like a visit to two favorite cousins who collect all manner of things.
They do have antiques, much of it purchased from local estates, but also books about Galveston, bowler hats for Dickens On the Strand, furniture polish, a collection of estate jewelry, and some nice stained glass.
It’s a cozy, low-key shop where it’s fun to look and there’s no pressure to buy anything. We found some delicate dragonware, a copper steamer, a turn-of-the-century cash register and a Ringo Starr Beatles doll still in its box.
Want to know more? Be sure to watch episodes of Big Texas Fix on the DIY channel (and learn more about this new TV show in this issue of Houston House and Home).
Big House Antiques is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Saturday, and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Architectural Salvage Warehouse
409-765-3460 ext. 1300
2228 Broadway, Galveston
409-762-8620, 423 25th Street, Galveston
Big House Antiques
2212 Mechanic, Galveston