Architectural Salvage As Art

by projectbuddy


Architectural salvage stores are one of my favorite places to visit. Even just a few pieces salvaged from an old house are enough to attract my attention. Every old door, window, doorknob, or banister seems to have a story to tell if only someone will take a moment to listen.

At the same time, there is some sadness because these are remnants of often grand buildings that no one was able to save perhaps due to lack of interest or lack of funds. Nevertheless, there structures can live on in a way through reuse of salvaged pieces either practically or decoratively.

This photograph is an example of purely decorative reuse of architectural salvage, a gift from my mother this Christmas. It is a piece of metal ceiling tile that has been simply framed, much like a sculptural frieze to be hung on a wall. It is roughly 28″ wide 17″ tall.

This came from the Oliver Hotel in Crewe, Virginia which has a rich history connected to the Norfolk and Western Railroad. It is interesting to imagine how that railroad history may have intertwined with the history of the hotel, and further where this may have been located in the hotel.

As a piece art, the color is perfect for my bathroom which features a cast iron bathtub with similar dark browns and blacks and other framed art using these same colors. Although this does appear monochromatic, it allows towels and other items to be changed without color clashes.

As framed sculpture, the relief is more pronounced when placed higher up, closer to a light source and closer to the original viewing angle intended by the designer. It works well over the doorway for a transom window effect, but I might move it later. At least it is being treasured again.

You may want to check out this post about the cast iron bathtub.

This photograph was taken December 2013. If you come across some of these unframed tiles and would like to try this for yourself, the frame appears to have been custom made to fit the tile. Metal screws have been used to fasten the metal ceiling tile to the frame using the tiles original fastening holes.