OLD CLAW-FOOT BATHTUBS never die. With any luck, they end up in architectural salvage depots, there to be rescued by renovators.
Before yesterday, I never had occasion to visit Moon River Chattel on Grand Street in Brooklyn. The original 13-year-old salvage outlet remains in an open lot, where tubs and sinks sit half-buried in snow; prices on the gorgeous soaking tubs, all in fine condition, are in the $700 range; porcelain pedestal sinks are around $400.
Moon River has two retail outlets on the same block. One has large-scale salvage: a 9-foot-tall, white-painted cabinet from a Victorian kitchen ($2,000), glass-and-wood showcases out of old stores, a fabulous early refrigerator in impeccable condition with a $3,000 price tag and a SOLD sticker. Across the street, not as interesting to me but very well-executed, is a shop — a gift shop, essentially — with a trendily nostalgic industrial-chic aesthetic. Among old metal lamps and wood school chairs are cool wire things, glassware, linens, and soaps.
But my two favorite salvage places (and these I have visited repeatedly, because I like my architectural salvage incredibly cheap) are Re-Store in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia, and the not-for-profit warehouse of the Historic Albany Foundation in the back streets of the Empire State’s (surprisingly intriguing) capital city.
We’re talking cheap here. Pedestal sinks for $125, schoolhouse globes for $25, old four-panel doors and six-over-six windows in good condition for…well, very little.
For old-house nuts like me (and you?), they’re great fun to explore.