Recycling the Past


Source: The Press of Atlantic City
Author: DEREK HARPER - Staff Writer - (609) 978-2015
Posted: Monday, May 10, 2004

If you're looking for Matt White, just look for the church steeple by the side of the road in Barnegat.  He and his family run the architectural salvage shop in town. They can get you anything you need, from hulking castle doors to shiny art deco lamps.

Take, for instance, the church steeple. He got a great deal on it in Barnesville, Md. The church was being taken down, and the steeple had to go. So, he hired a crane, but he wasn't around when the steeple came off. His buddy volunteered to put it on his trailer, instead. White went to Maryland, but now he had a problem. His friend had a somewhat decrepit trailer loaded down with this 15-foot tall, rather singular architectural gem. White wanted it on his trailer, but his friend said it couldn't be done. Impossible, he said. It weighs too much. He bet me 50 bucks," White said. With the proper bracing, supports, rollers and time, White had the gray-brown weathered steeple and the cash. He hit the road. But mobile steeples turn heads on the highway. E-ZPass is such a blessing, he said. "Before E-ZPass you had to talk to every toll booth clerk," White said. "They'd look at it and say 'what the hell is that?'" Back in Barnegat, he rounded up a couple guys who sometimes do work for him, and they backed the formerly sacred object off the yellow trailer. Put down a few rollers, braced it again, and they hauled it close to the highway. They propped it up. And the White family, who runs Recycling the Past at 381 N. Main St., had another find for their lot, arguably the most eclectic yard in town. You can see some of their stuff at their Web site, "People in town must think I'm crazy," he concedes. There are the dozen massive claw-foot bathtubs toward the back, selling for several hundred dollars each. Five inches of water sit inside from the previous night's rain. Another 18 heavy sinks sit nearby, next to moulds used to cast plaster sculpture. A box of letters from an old marquee is placed under a tree. Each is three dollars. Elsewhere in the yard, you can find, among many, many other things a cupola from the former Dorrance Estate on Philadelphia's Main Line, the Campbell's Soup people.

  The place has elaborate gardens that fill the front of the yard. Towering plants shade the path to the house. Off the parking lot, another stone path leads down to a dark, cool fountain. Pudgy children, hewn from limestone, frolic. Inside the house are several rooms of random eclectic details. A bathtub. A polished old-fashioned lock and key set. Clear crystal door knobs. Yellowed architectural drawings holding the ghostly sculptural details of vanished buildings. The Whites keep track of it all on a corner table in one of the rooms. It's some sort of pulpit, said Matt's brother, Josh White, 27. He recently came back from Florida to work in the family business.

  This pulpit has three interlocked chains, two gavels on the side and the office supplies on top - a digital camera, glass cleaner and a tarnished silver trophy used to hold pencils. On a dull side is engraved "F.P.T.A. Mixed Doubles, 1915." The family also bought two older, run-down homes along Barnegat within the last several years. When the houses are rehabbed, the family hopes to expand into them. It wasn't always this way. Their crazy yard happened while they were making other plans.

  The family lived in Medford, and Matt Whi

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

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