Posts Tagged school salvage

Many salvage details make a home

An office building originally built in 1912 for the Gooding Shingle and Saw Mill has slowly been made into a home since 2006 by its current owners — with a lot of patience and many trips over the years for parts and materials at The RE Store. Salvage items from The RE Store listed below:


A) Storm sash in place for old double hung window—enough for all the windows collected from the store over the years.
B) Computer work station. 1″ CVG fir top, solid oak cabinet, refinished.
C) Workshop storage cabinet, from WWU chemistry labs. 1 3/4″ maple bench top rescued from dumpster at Whatcom Middle School when they converted the wood shop to a computer room.
D) Double swinging doors.
E) Claw foot tub, refinished along with beveled tongue & groove red cedar paneling.
F) Light duty Dayton table saw.
G) Hemlock ceiling—beveled and tongue & groove milled on table saw.
H) Slate blackboard and CVG fir frame and chalk rail.
I) Stairway with 1″ CVG fir treads came in two pieces from a South Hill home. Oak hand rail also salvaged. Balustrade from re-used straight grained old growth fir. Cedar stanchion, 45 rings per inch, beach-combed from Cherry Point.

Do you have similar projects that use salvage materials?  From the big gestures to the small details – we love to see them all and see the new chapters of our materials’ lives. Send us your pics — and inspire others!  bray [at]



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Ebbets Field Flannels Updated with (Way)Back-to-school Materials

ebbets field salvage retail displays

Ebbets Field Flannels has been hand-crafting authentic reproductions of baseball shirts, caps, and more from historic teams all around the country – from right in the heart of Pioneer Square in Seattle.  To celebrate their 25 years in business, they have a brand new facility and retail store on Jackson.  Almost all of the details and displays are salvaged and repurposed – including lighting fixtures, globes, crates, benches, and lockers.  And many of the build-out details are made from bleacher board made of Southern Pine that The RE Store brought back this summer from Prairie High School in Battleground, Washington.  This dense yellow pine, most likely installed in its original use in the 1960s, has a new life as many great warm details throughout the space in their caps storage, rack tops, counters and more.  They’ve also built table tops out of a piece of bowling alley that found its way back to The RE Store – having already had a repurposed life before this latest incarnation.


To celebrate 25 years and a new space, Ebbets is hosting an open house this Friday evening – complete with beer and dogs.  Check out the invite above – all are invited!  It is a great space to get some REuse inspiration.  Get inspired and then come find that special material for your own projects in Ballard or Bellingham!

Posted in: RE Store Rockstar Project, Stories about people, Stories about stuff

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Back to School – Chalkboards, Lockers and Old Pioneer Middle School

The Seattle Field Crew Goes Back to School in Steilacoom

Notes from the Field – by Ryan DeSales

Just when we thought our summer-school days were behind us, it was back-to-school for the Seattle RE Store’s field crew this July.  Fortunately, as we salvaged the Old Pioneer Middle School located in historic Steilacoom, we didn’t have to memorize the periodic table or state capitals this time around (quick, what’s the capital of North Dakota?). Instead, we got to remove cast iron radiators, slate chalkboards, and yes, rows and rows of shiny gym lockers (P.S., it’s Bismarck).

Students haven’t walked the halls of Old Pioneer since 2008 when it was replaced by the new Pioneer Middle School in DuPont, but the Seattle field crew got an all-access salvage pass. Although the historic school no longer holds classes, it is slated to get a new lease on life as the Steilacoom School District’s administrative center. The RE Store was proud to be part of this transition by salvaging reusable materials before renovations begin. It’s always nice to be the first into a historic structure such as this one, rather than the last out of it.

We started our adventure by removing the steam radiators from the school’s original two story brick classroom building, which was built in 1918. Despite forgetting our trusty monkey wrench, we were able to disconnect the rusty pipes using a pair of Channellocks and a pry bar as a lever—our old science and shop teachers would be proud. After loading a ton of radiators, quite literally, onto the truck, we moved on to slate chalkboards. For those of you that have never had the pleasure of removing a real slate chalkboard, we highly recommend it as a character building exercise. If you have enough character, but need a cool slate counter top, please visit the Seattle RE Store. For some inspiration, check out this great blog post with examples of chalk board reuse from House Appeal.

Alas, there were only so many chalkboards to carry, so we decided to relive gym class by removing some lockers. The gym facility was added in 1952, along with some pretty awesome metallic green, wrinkle-finish lockers. In case you were wondering, that locker room smell never quite goes away. After freeing up many a stubborn locker and finding a considerable amount of spare change, it was time to clean up by pulling some trough sinks and a mop sink as well.

All told, the field crew removed five truck loads worth of materials from Old Pioneer, including: mahogany bookshelves, dry erase boards, work tables, lockers, illuminated fire escape signs, and even a pottery wheel. While we love to save history by salvaging it, this was one job where we were happy to leave things mostly intact.

And that was what we did over our summer.

Posted in: Notes From the Field, Stories about people, Stories about stuff

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Make.Shift Art Space: unscrewing up a gallery and studio spaces

Gallery space at Make.Shift

Gallery space at Make.Shift

The 40’s-era building at Grant and Flora streets has seen better days. Originally a milk processing plant, the building has been reincarnated and remodeled many times over, most notably as a law office in the 1970s. Since Bellingham nonprofit Make.Shift took over the artist collective at 306 Flora in summer 2011, volunteers and licensed contractors have been renovating continuously. They like to call it, “un-screwing up” the building.

Studios - during and after the remodel

Art studios - during and after the remodel, with reclaimed lumber, doors, windows and salvaged tin paneling - click for enlargement

While building six new music studios in the collective’s basement, the group chose 1920’s-era 40″ doors salvaged by The RE Store from McDonald Elementary School. A half dozen quirky salvaged light fixtures throughout the art space illuminate the creative hub. The upstairs art gallery is painted with remanufactured recycled Metro latex paint from The RE Store.

Many desks, tables, shelves and other furniture items from The RE Store have found new homes at Make.Shift. “Without The RE Store, we wouldn’t have been able to complete half of the projects we’ve taken on at Make.Shift Art Space,” said Make.Shift director Cat Sieh.

Phone booth and studio space

Phone booth and studio space

The group’s most recent project was the construction of three new basement artist studios. All three studios were built from 90% recycled/repurposed materials. Make.Shift repurposed cedar fence posts and tin warehouse roofing as siding, used old single-pane windows to keep the basement nice and bright, and framed all of the studios with reclaimed lumber.

“We’re so grateful to have The RE Store as a sponsor,” Cat said. “Using their materials has saved us money, and allowed us to source materials locally and sustainably. ”

If your group has a need for materials or gift certificates for fundraising events, please contact The RE Store with your request.

Posted in: RE Store Rockstar Project, Stories about people, Stories about stuff, You can do it yourself

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McDonald Elementary Salvage Treasures Come to The RE Store

The RE Store crew in Seattle was all hands on deck this last week to salvage some great stuff from McDonald Elementary School in Wallingford.  Great finds such as chalkboard slate, beautiful clear fir cabinetry and doors, lockers, clocks and light fixtures have been rolling in to both stores every day from the school.  Items with incredible character can be found – most items are original building elements.  The school was built in 1913, with a wing added on just a few years later.  Designed by Seattle Public School architect, Edgar Blair, and named after Judge F.A. McDonald, this school was an active elementary school until the 1980s.  Since then it has spent time as an interim school for many other Seattle Public Schools undergoing renovation, as well as a stint as a classroom building for Bastyr University, and even used as a film set for “World’s Greatest Dad”.  Currently, it is about to undergo extensive renovations and upgrades to become a new International Elementary School of the Seattle Public School system.  Come get a piece of our city’s educational history!

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Salvage Ghosts of John Hay Elementary

John Hay Elementary front door

John Hay Elementary atop Queen Anne Hill in Seattle

John Hay Elementary atop Seattle’s Queen Anne Hill has given up its ghosts. That is, The RE Store’s salvage crew has been working as a part of the major remodeling that is taking place in the fall of 2010. The non-profit’s mission is to keep valuable materials from being wasted.

According to the Seattle Public Schools website, “The first John Hay School building opened in 1905, and the second opened in 1922. The school is located on the site of the old Queen Anne High School track and field. Hay was named after a statesman who served as a foreign policy advisor to several American presidents.”

John Hay Elementary clocks

Clock and "Master Clock" from John Hay Elementary

Pat Finn, The RE Store’s Operations Manager and James Taylor, carried 30 sheets of chalkboard slate out. Some of the sheets were carried down two full flights of stairs and both James and Pat wondered if their arms had lengthened. Tape measures revealed no measurable increases. As if the chalkboard slate material wasn’t enough, the school’s clocks made their way into the crew’s trucks, including the unique “Master Clock” that controlled the entire school’s clock system. The harvest of valuable classic items also included classic windows from the tops of the stairwells with antique wavy glass. Doors and plumbing fixtures were also carted back to The RE Store in Ballard.

“The 360-degree view of the city from the top of Queen Anne Hill was fantastic,” mused Pat.

Posted in: Stories about stuff, Transforming the building industry

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Origins of The RE Store 2 – Salvage safety lessons

The early years (mid 1990s) of The RE Store were full of outstanding opportunities including a burgeoning salvage trade. Bruce Odum, former general manager recalled that quick action was always necessary while out salvaging materials.
“In Mt. Vernon, we pulled out a gorgeous solid hardwood cabinet, but had to leave it overnight due to limited space in the truck. When we returned, the track hoe was sitting on top of  the building in the exact spot that we had left the cabinet..”

school cabinets with glass fronts

Schools like Fairhaven Middle School yield high quality items like cabinetry, slate, and more

Safety has always been a big focus for The RE Store, with the many potential hazards of salvage and used materials. Bruce remembered a safety training that had a bad ending. Lowell, a grad student at WWU was very clean-cut and well-spoken. He seemed like the right guy to run a basic safety course for us. When the class was finished, Lowell left the store. As he walked out of the building, he walked into one of the huge utility poles that held up the building’s soffit outside and broke his nose.

Safety on salvage job sites required vigilance as well.
“We always stayed out of identified asbestos areas, or so we thought. Fairhaven Middle School in Bellingham had these great rolled linoleum tops. We had to cut them in half to get them out the doors. After cutting them up, someone came and told us they had asbestos in them. The site was shut down and everyone had to go home. It turned out that the exposure was not enough to endanger anyone’s health but we learned a lot.”

“One of the cabinets in that same school was filled with cleaning supplies and was downright nasty smelling. We walked away from it and were working at the other end of the building. One of the demolition crews drove through the cabinets with a demolition Bobcat, mixed the ammonia and bleach in the cabinet, and released a cloud of poisonous chlorine gas. The whole building had to get evacuated.”

Bruce related a story about how job retraining was a part of the organization, even in its early days.
“Two Russian brothers were on a program where they could work for us, subsidized by a government retraining program. One was a diesel mechanic and the other had been a farmer. They didn’t speak more than a dozen words of english but they had loads of common sense and a solid hard-work ethic. The brothers wore thick wool coats and stocking hats all year long. They traveled with us for a big salvage project in the Methow Valley. The truck, Goldie, overheated. The Russian guy who was the mechanic pulled water out of a wild mountain stream as we enjoyed the scenic views.”

More tales of the early years of The RE Store to come in later posts.

Check out Part 1 – The Origins of The RE Store

Learn more about The RE Store’s licensed and bonded Salvage Services with free pick-ups on our website.

Posted in: Stories about people, Stories about stuff, Things you never knew about The RE Store, Transforming the building industry

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