Historic Houston Ending Its Salvage Program, Shutting Down North Montrose Salvage Warehouse

Local nonprofit Historic Houston is no longer accepting donations of building materials, and is closing its salvage warehouse and ending its salvage program, reports the organization’s founder and executive director, Lynn Edmundson. The organization stored and sold donated historic building materials reclaimed from doomed houses at a leased warehouse and yard at 1307 W. Clay and a separate “overflow” facility across the street at 1214 Joe Annie. Historic Houston’s 9-year-old salvage program typically removed and saved doors, windows, flooring, shiplap, siding, stair rails treads, and plumbing and lighting fixtures from old houses slated for demolition.


The closing of the North Montrose warehouse will likely be a major blow to the organization, which also runs educational programs and a relocation service for doomed bungalows. Edmundson explains that sales of used building materials once covered all of Historic Houston’s expenses: its 2 leases, staff salaries, a salvage crew, power tools and equipment, warehouse racks and vehicles. By last year, though, that formula had stopped working. Demand for the organization’s salvaging services continued to grow, along with its inventory — Edmundson calls the stream of donated items “endless and overwhelming.” But sales fell off, and the organization has no “cash cushion,” Edmundson notes: “We have windows and other things that we can’t sell enough of — to cover all of the expenses for getting the material out of a house, transporting it, and then having enough space to store everything until someone comes in to buy it. . . . Our ability to turn windows to dollars to pay expenses tanked when the economy went south.”

The warehouse has been operating in its current location for 7 years. Edmundson says the facility is closed today and will likely remain closed over the weekend — except to allow people who’ve already purchased items to pick them up. She intends to reopen it soon — possibly next week — for a members-only 50-percent-off sale. Later, the sale will be opened to the general public. Anything that isn’t sold will likely be donated to the ReStore operated by Northwest Harris County’s Habitat for Humanity.

Photos: Candace Garcia

21 Comment

  • Absolutely awful news. This was an amazing resource for owners of historic homes.

  • hmmm – guess I should go buy those doors that I thought were over priced. 50% off should make them about right….

  • :( sad news. We purchased a floor from them 3 year ago when we added on to our bungalow. neat place.

  • Definitely a neat place, love the old fountains.

  • But I just closed on an old bungalow Tuesday. ARGH!!!

  • The city should be running this as a way to reduce landfill material as an extension of the other recycling programs. In Austin there at least a dozen companies doing this same service too. Probably the real estate in that area is too much for Historic Houston now.

  • Just more proof that the market for historic restoration that the city seems to theink everyone wants does not actually exist.
    There are some who love this old stuff, but the overwhelming majority of people do not. If it was profitable, it would not be closing.
    As to the city taking it over…please tell me you are kidding? The city has a negative cash flow…we don’t need to add to that so that a bunch of rich pretentious greenies can feel good about themselves. There are actually real problems that need to be addressed at the city level.

  • I can only assume this wasn’t profitable because of the location/overhead and mismanagement. Also, their prices were WAY too high so I’m not surprised they had a hard time selling stuff. Seemed to be priced more like an Antique Boutique rather than a building supply store. Some of the items were rare but if the demand for the rare item isn’t there, the high price isn’t justified.

    The city already has a similar program but its warehouse only sells to non-profits. Opening it up to the public would increase revenues but I think there are some Tax issues involved (for profit vs. non-profit). So hopefully Habitat ReStore can handle the load.

    I think a lot of people don’t realize you can get a tax write-off for the material value of items donated. Adds up to a lot more than a few bags of clothes dropped off at Salvation Army.

    And not everyone wants to shop at the Home Depot for building supplies or have to rely on eBay, Craigslist, etc. to find building materials with little more personality or the perfect replacement piece for restoring an older home.
    Its ignorant to assume this kind of endeavor only benefits rich people or environ-mentals – there are plenty of people living in older homes who would rather repair their old window than have to pay to replace it. Places like this provide parts and pieces that are flat out unavailable new.

  • Man that sucks. I have bought a handfull of items there to add some nice touches to my bungalow, and it was a excellent resource for finding compatible pieces. Lower prices would have probably helped them. I guess I’ll have to think of all pieces that I might want to pick up during the sale.

  • Boo hiss! Is this just coincidental …What with the historic Council war’s going on and all?

  • This is more proof that the City is filled with talentless hack builders and rennovators who have ignored all the great materials at the warehouse in favor of Home Depot garbage. Sadly, the general public is not aware that this place existed and let hack builders replace historic flooring, doors, fixtures etc. with KB home/suburban crap materials instead of putting a little time and effort into finding and using matching original materials. You would never go into a new home in the Woodlands and replace a door knob with a 1920s bungalow fixture. But for some reason hacks come into the Heights and think that it they can jam whatever fits from Home Depot into a historic home. And it is not rocket science either. There are plenty of people working on historic homes in Galveston who are great at finding and working with vintage materials.

  • Update from Historic Houston:
    I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of support that we have received today. We have been overwhelmed with phone calls and emails and many, many offers of support in a variety of ways. .
    We have been asked to calculate what amount of funding would be needed to keep the Salvage Warehouse opened and operating, as an intermediate short-term solution, so that a long term strategy could be formulated.
    To that end we have calculated that would take a minimum of 500 donations of $100.00/donation to keep the warehouse opened and the staff in place for an additional 3 months. Obviously cash donations of any size would be greatly appreciated and accepted but this is the amount that is immediately needed.

    If you are willing to make a cash donation to keep our Salvage Warehouse opened, or know someone else who might, please follow the link Emergency Funding Donation to contribute. While this is a only a short-term solution, it might provide some time to look at some of the offers that have come forward to help us out.

  • As a member, we purchased a door, period appropriate, for a little ’40s rental cottage–really good solid wood and the price was the same as a door of cheaper wood from Home Depot. Will check our budget and make a donation, plus check to see what we might need in the way of replacement items.

  • From Marksmu:
    Just more proof that the market for historic restoration that the city seems to theink everyone wants does not actually exist.


    Exactly. You are so right. Because I am not currently in the market for an old window, I must be against preservation. Call off the historic preservation ordinance! Bring on the wrecking balls and plywood new construction!

  • I would definitely have shopped there more if the prices were not so high.

  • +1 What Old school said.

  • Given that in all of the other cities I have lived in there are several of these type of businesses that operate as profit making enterprises this seems odd. Old School’s comment that “Sadly, the general public is not aware that this place existed” is probably pretty telling.

  • It is expensive to take apart an old house carefully and the liability issues are huge.
    Houston’s builders don’t want to deal with anything that isn’t contractor grade. It takes individual homeowners to make a place like that work. With fewer and fewer old homes in existance, who needs that sort of stuff?
    Great idea. Wrong City. Places like this thrive elsewhere.

  • Places like this are for people who actively seek historic renovation and period appropriate pieces. It is for people who want to do their own work, or at least have a heavy influence on what is done. I believe these are the reasons for failure: overpriced (not everything, but a lot of pieces are quite expensive and need work), lack of awareness, business hours (10-4pm isn’t very conveinent for the do-it-yourselfer who this would cater to the most). Perhaps (i’m assuming they have to rent the building) they could move to a new location that would have cheaper rent? If they have the sale tomorrow my wife will be there picking up a whole host of things for future projects. If the pieces had originally been 25-50% less I would have bought a lot more on previous visits.

  • All you price complainers – it is a non-profit! Its not as though they were gouging you!
    Again, careful removal of stuff does not come cheap. And, unlike Houston’s builders, I would bet all of their workers are legal.