Preservation by Recycling

By: Conrad Neuf , Contributing Writer
In: Old Houses, Old House Musings, In The News, Old House History
19th Century Log Homes Saved and Moved to Virginia

19th Century Log Homes Saved and Moved to Virginia

I received a comment from Bill responding to my recent blog post on Preservation Success in Waterford, VA. Bill saved parts of an old plantation home built in North Carolina during the 1800s, and moved them to become part of a cabin he built in Montana. I think this is just great, and wish more people would get involved in preservation recycling. In my opinion, this demonstrates the “old is the new green” adage just as much as the restoration of an old house.

If You Can’t Save the Old House, Save Parts

Unfortunately not all old houses can be saved; some have just too much damage done over the years to make it feasible. In other cases the best efforts of preservation enthusiasts aren’t enough, and an old house or building is lost. But does it have to be completely lost or can parts of it be preserved?

I happened upon a great story in an online NASCAR publication recently about preserving parts of an old house. Lindy Hornaday is the wife of a Truck Series driver, and when she relocated to North Carolina from the West Coast, she fell in love with an old house in Mooresville. The old house had belonged to a woman who had been a bit of a local legend, and she had been born and died in the old house–had lived her entire 97 years there. Mrs. Hornaday purchased the old house at auction, and turned it into a small store. The article reminded me of my post concerning what makes a house historic, as this old house contained all of the memories of a woman’s life. Unfortunately the old house eventually ended up being torn down, but Mrs. Hornaday was able to preserve a lot of the special parts of the home by building them into her new establishment in Mooresville.

Recycle That Old House

Rick Haver, a custom builder in Saugatuck, Michigan, uses old log home timbers in his new custom homes. This article about a home he was building in 2008 describes how he was using 180-year-old timbers from a cabin originally built in Rich Creek, Virginia. It is estimated that Andrew Jackson was the president when the cabin was built. The cabin was torn down over the years and he found the timbers in West Virginia. The old house timbers now have a new home in Michigan, and this builder exemplifies that “old is the new green.” He had already built three other homes incorporating old house timbers before beginning this house, two in Pennsylvania and one in New Hampshire. Rick Haver has been recognized by the local preservation organizations for his historical preservation work.

So hats off to Bill in Montana, Lindy Hornaday in North Carolina, Rick Haver in Michigan, and everyone else who is contributing to preservation by recycling old houses.