Historic Houston holding auction before closing

May 31, 2011 5:32:22 PM PDT
A business that was changing the way people renovate their homes is set to close after it was hit hard by the recession. The business helped recycle parts from historic homes, and now those parts are up for auction.

They're parts of Houston's past, old lumber, floorboards from old trees that have weathered time. They were Lynn Edmundson's passion.

"They find the original columns here. They'd find the original front door, or a similar one that's appropriate for their house and they really did transform neighborhoods over the years," she said.

Ten years ago, Edmundson founded the nonprofit Historic Houston, which salvaged donated materials from vintage homes undergoing demolition. They were then sold at Historic Houston's warehouse at affordable prices. But last year, business fell off a cliff.

"In 2010, our biggest foreign sale was $250 because people were just patching a small area; they weren't doing a big addition," Edmundson said.

Historic Home founder Lynn Edmundson says the salvage materials were donated but the salvage crews who collected it were paid and warehouse rents were not cheap.

Now the entire warehouse's inventory is being prepared for an auction starting at 10am Thursday. Everything, including the office's antique cabinets, will be sold.

"Never an auction that has been nothing but pieces out of historic homes," said David Runte with the Worstell Auction Company.

Near Bellaire is a new, green-certified house under construction that was contributed to Historic Houston. The house it replaced was salvaged by the nonprofit.

Builder Tommu Strong is glad to see it.

"Virtually anything that would have value in the future (and otherwise might have ended up) in the landfill," he said.

It's a loss on several levels for historic restoration and repurposing bits of the past and it's a dream Edmundson hopes has been passed on.

"We've transformed neighborhoods, piece by piece; it's been really lovely," she said.

The real question Edmundson hears from people involve where can they find the materials from lumber to doorknobs for their own vintage homes. They can be found elsewhere, she says, like at antique stores for example, but not at the prices offered at Historic Houston, where salvaged oak flooring could be bought for less than $2 per square foot and real 2x4s, taken from homes -- grand and small.

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