Recycling the Past


Author: STEVEN V. CRONIN - Staff Writer (609) 272-7240
Posted: Thursday, March 27, 2014

BARNEGAT TOWNSHIP - The trick is knowing what to take.

When the wrecking ball is ready to swing, it's easy to try to save anything that looks like it might have value.

That would be a mistake, according to Matt White, owner of Recycling the Past, an architectural salvage company based in a 140-year-old Victorian building in the heart of this small Ocean County municipality.

For seven years the 30-year-old businessman has earned his living by saving hardware, decorative items and plumbing fixtures that would otherwise end up in the rubble pile and selling them to a growing cadre of customers.

In that time, White has learned some hard truths about the limits of display space and the value of restraint.

"You have to be very selective. If you're not, you could wind up with 500 acres of old junk that nobody wants," White said, as he led a visitor on a tour of the treasures and oddities stacked and scattered around the one-acre backyard display area off Route 9.

It's a tour that sends homeowners scrambling for their checkbooks and launches architects into creative flights of fancy.

In one corner stands a bright red English telephone booth (a bargain at $4,250) while the center of the yard is filled with stacks of decoratively molded concrete panels from a now gone factory. Old bathtubs stand in the grass like giant birdbaths while a carved stone gargoyle snuggles down in his padded canvas covering. An old church steeple greets cars pulling off the road and the windows of a Victorian-era bay window gaze silently off into the woods.

Inside the offices, a family of cats makes its home among displays of old glass doorknobs, fancy hinges and numerous decorative tiles. Standing in the center of each small room are decorative glass-topped tables White fashioned from salvaged wrought iron railings and fences.

White came by these treasures in a variety of ways. Many were salvaged from old buildings that his company demolished along the New Jersey shore. Others were purchased through a worldwide network of dealers and scavengers White has developed over the years. Still others have come from fortuitous finds in debris piles and rubbish bins.

"I was in New York the other day and I saw this old door out in the trash. Some people would just see a pile of garbage. I looked over and saw $50 worth of hardware sitting out at the curb," White said.

Needless to say, White was a little late for his appointment that day.

Running Recycling the Past has been a learning experience for White, who studied horticulture in college. He was working on a fishing boat when he began buying and selling interesting old pieces he found at yard sales.

White found he had a knack for the work. Soon he, his father and brother were branching out, bidding on selected demolition projects when buildings contained enough salvageable material to make the job worthwhile.

White started by collecting only items that he personally liked.

"I figured if I might

Recycling The Past - Architectural Salvage
381 North Main Street, Barnegat, NJ 08005

Copyright 2022 Recycling The Past, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Follow Us On Facebook Follow us on Instagram Follow us on Pinterest Follow on on LinkedIn