Recycling the Past


Source: Asbury Park Press
Posted: Tuesday, July 11, 2006

PAST PERFECT Barnegat salvage center turns yesterday's goods into today's treasures
Home News Tribune Online 06/24/06


All sorts of interesting items fill the salvage yard at Recycling the Past in Barnegat, but there's something specific a first-time visitor is eager to see.

"Show me the urinals," I say.

It's not what you think.

Matt White, 34, who runs the Route 9 business with his brother, Josh, 31, and father, Stephen, 66, has piqued my interest talking about a recent salvage job at the old Atlantic City High School, which dates to the early 1900s. Among the items it yielded were two old-fashioned floor urinals from the boys bathroom. One was sold to the owner of an estate in Sag Harbor, Long Island.

Urinals, it turns out, are a hot commodity right now.

"Strangely enough," says White, who leads me to the rear of the nearly 2-acre lot.

En route, we pass fountains and gargoyles, a 1948 Ford flatbed laden with antique lobster traps from Maine; a pair of rocket-shaped "drop tanks" from a military aircraft propped peacefully beside a tree; the remnants of an old outhouse; a tottery gazebo from the campus of Upsala College in East Orange; and a mound of bricks salvaged from State Street in Trenton.

"These are hard-fired bricks," White says, wiping dirt away from one to reveal the name "McAvoy" etched into the brick. "They'll last hundreds of years."

White stops when we reach the area reserved for bathroom and kitchen fixtures, which are lined up like headstones in a porcelain graveyard.

Among the wide assortment of sinks, tubs and toilets is one rather stately looking, nearly 5-foot-tall terra cotta urinal.

There are urinals, and then there are urinals. This one looks big enough to tip over and take a bath in, and elegant enough to lend a sense of ceremony to even the most mundane of human rituals.

At Recycling the Past, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

And there is much to behold.

"It's sort of like Christmas. You never know what you're going to get," says Denise Brand, 45, a Teaneck resident who stops here occasionally to look for Victorian pieces that will cozy up her contemporary summer home in the Holgate section of Long Beach.

Wander around the Whites' yard, and you'll find columns and pilasters, antique roof tiles and cast iron radiators, subway tiles and fireplace mantels, a garage full of old doors and a room full of knobs. There are iron garden ornaments from Mexico, a steeple from a church in Maryland, and a telephone booth from England that White bought himself as a 30th birthday present.

"I'm hoping to make it an outdoor shower someday," he says.

White, who grew up in Shamong and now lives in Barnegat, more or less stumbled into salvaging. He traces the genesis of the business to the mirrors he made out of old window sashes he found in a friend's

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

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