Recycling the Past



Posted: Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Consider home-related reality TV shows as an economic barometer: in the fizzy sub-prime era, get-rich programs like A & E’s “Flip This House” and Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing” filled the airwaves. Now there are more recession-appropriate shows, among them DIY’s “Operation Salvage,” which follows the Whites, a Barnegat, N.J., family whose members run an architectural salvage business called Recycling the Past and spend their free time on thrifty projects like making dining tables out of scrap wood.

Matt White, who works alongside his brother, Josh, and his father, Steve, took a break from his seven-day workweek to chat.

How do you differentiate between junk and something valuable?
Nothing is junk. But often you get called last minute and have 24 hours to get everything out of a house. You have to focus on the best investment for your time.

Like what?
Old-growth wood, for example. Years ago, chestnut trees were killed in a blight, so the only way to get that wood today is with salvage materials.

Do you salvage big items, too?
We took four 40-foot-tall limestone columns from a nursing college in New Jersey. People say, “Why did you bother with that?” Well, who else has got it? I don’t care if I sell them or not. It makes our yard look great.

Has the recession affected your business?
Things are tight, but people still want to work on their homes. To get a custom door built might run you $500 to $3,000. You can get that from us for maybe $75.

Did you use salvage in your home?
We brought in stained glass from a house in Westchester. The flooring came from a barn in the Shenandoah Valley. The sink is from a house in St. Louis. The countertops are railroad car floorings. Walking around the house, there are so many stories.


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

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