I drove past the Architectural Salvage Warehouse on my commute to work for nearly five months before I actually noticed this building on Grand River. Ironically, I take this route specifically because I love the scenery of the Grand River Creative Corridor. If you’ve never done so, I recommend taking a drive down this stretch of Grand River between Rosa Parks and Warren. If you go early enough in the morning, you’ll have the street to yourself, and you can enjoy the colorful murals that blanket the buildings on these blocks without any other cars obstructing your view.
Though I take in the murals almost daily, I had somehow overlooked the warehouse on my drives. Our last challenge with Beaumont Health was what finally brought me there. For those unfamiliar with the Architectural Salvage Warehouse, they deconstruct Detroit homes and either sell or repurpose the pieces of it. The retail warehouse on Grand River is packed with French doors, clawfoot tubs, wood-burning stoves, and windows rescued from blighted homes. Our team was seeking some of these reclaimed windows for use in an art installation.
The concept of home deconstruction transforms something that was once whole into many parts. As we were sifting through these windows for our project, trying to avoid any splinters or shattered glass, it dawned on me how meticulous the work of salvaging really is. To transport one of these heavy glass windows or one of the many ceramic toilets at the warehouse requires immense care. Deconstruction is not pillaging old homes, but protecting them. I had first thought of the process as a separation of a complete package, but, in reality, it is merely protecting its individual parts.
I’ll be honest: I wasn’t sold on the forty pound windows at first. As we were lugging them around the city to work on them and for our final presentation, I thought that it might’ve been easier to buy some new, less cumbersome frames for our art piece. But when I dropped our finished piece off at it’s new home at the clinic, I snapped a few pictures of our windows in their new, temporary home. I was proud of the fact that we hadn’t taken the shiny, new solution to an issue we were facing. We supported a Detroit business, brought new life to these two pieces of Detroit history, and hopefully brightened the day of a Detroiter or two visiting the clinic. To me, that is more than worth it.