Architectural Salvage to the Rescue


Back in my college days at Salve Regina University, I enjoyed chatting with Joe Sousa, the Director of Maintenance.  Joe would often describe the challenges he faced trying to maintain Salve’s unique collection of Gilded Age mansions that housed classrooms, dorms, and offices.  I recall him saying, “When a pane of leaded glass in Wakehurst needs to be repaired, you simply can’t run down to the corner hardware store and find a replacement.”  These discussions sparked my interest in architectural salvage.

Aardvark Antiques 1

Some Items at Aardvark Antiques in Newport, RI

Through the years I have developed a great admiration for my friends the Grovers: Arthur, Jay, and Kathy, who own and operate Aardvark Antiques in Newport. Aardvark Antiques was established in 1969 by Arthur Grover and quickly became a major source of architectural and decorative elements to architects, interior decorators, landscape designers, special event artists, the amusement/ entertainment business and the film and theater industry. Aardvark Antiques has over 65,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor display areas and features stained glass, grand iron gates and fencing, mantels and lighting fixtures, as well as their own line of bronze home and garden furnishings. Jay Grover sums it up best. He says, “In our opinion there is nothing more enjoyable to a builder or DIY’ers than adding to their project an architectural element from the past. Not only does it create a conversation piece but it also pays homage to the history of art and architecture.” These urban archeologists took the initiative to rescue treasures from around the world and encourage architects and interior designers to integrate recycled style into modern day lives.  In the ensuing years, a myriad of stained glass windows, exotic wooden mantels, crystal chandeliers, pressed tin ceilings, cast iron tubs and classical columns have been thoughtfully repurposed to enhance modern homes with architectural integrity and imbue spaces with craftsmanship, romance and nostalgia.

Creating a Portal in a Federal Home

Additio interiors

Architect John Grosvenor and I are currently rejuvenating an 1811 Federal Home in Newport, RI.  To adapt the home for a modern lifestyle, we removed an awkward three-storey ell and designed a two-storey cathedral living space for a new kitchen and dining room.  The addition borrows style cues from the Greek Revival period so the home appears as though the addition naturally evolved in the 1860s like other homes in Newport’s Historic Hill neighborhood.

Antique Transom

To create a unique transition between the early 19th century home and the new addition, we plan to install an antique beveled leaded glass transom window that was originally designed for a 18th century home on Blackstone Boulevard in Providence, RI. The eight-foot-wide transom window will be accentuated by a pair of antique beveled leaded glass side lights.  We discovered these stunning windows at Aardvark Antiques. When you are seated at the dining room table, you will be able to admire the portal that captures the elegance of the era and lends the space distinct sparkle and drama.  Most importantly, our home will be graced by the extraordinary craftsmanship of yesteryear.

Other Uses for Reclaimed Items in Our Home


In addition to incorporating antique leaded glass windows into our home, we also plan to repurpose some of the home’s original parts.  For example, interior  doors we discovered in the attic will be reused as pantry doors in the kitchen, an antique claw foot tub that occupied a second floor bathroom will be reconditioned and installed in the master bathroom, and a vintage porcelain sink with drain board that was used in a third floor hobby room will be put to good use in the laundry room.


Interestingly enough, all six of the fireplaces in the home need new surrounds and hearthstones.  Fortunately, we were able to acquire several slate blackboards from a 19th century school in Newport that is being converted to condominiums.  The slate’s deep blue hues pair beautifully with our collection of 17th century Delft tiles rescued from a home in Normandy.

. tile crop copped tile 2 The art of repurposing proves that sometimes the parts are more valuable than the sum.

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