Peoria business works to preserve past by salvaging present

Open For Business

While you’ll find doors, lights, trim and appliances at Peoria Architectural Salvage, it’s not your standard hardware store. 

“We recognize the irreplaceable nature of these materials,” said Jeanine Wester, the co-owner of Peoria Architectural Salvage.

Jeanine and Thomas Wester are preservationists of sorts.

“Just looking around at what was happening in Peoria with all these houses on the demolition list, you know that’s when we got the idea that maybe we should try to save some of this stuff rather than just let it go to the landfills,” said Thomas, who is also the co-owner of the business.

The husband and wife team started Peoria Architectural Salvage back in January of 2015. The idea was the result of a stalled home improvement project when Jeanine and Thomas got stumped trying to find materials to renovate their older Victorian style home. 

Jeanine said, “So we started working with the city of Peoria to salvage homes on the demo list to remove some of those antique materials before demolition.”
Three years later, the Westers say they’ve lost track of just how many items they’ve since collected in their warehouse. The salvages occasionally unearth a hidden, decades-old surprise. 
“Finding like an old photo or you know a little alcohol bottle,” laughed Thomas. “Like what was that guy doing? You know. He buried his liquor bottle in the floor joint or the wall cavity or something.”
Thomas and Jeanine say every recovery they do is different from the items they find to how they delicately work to remove them. But with each sell they make, there’s also a save. 
“Once it’s thrown in the dump, it’s gone forever. So we’re trying to reuse those materials because they’re better quality, they’re beautiful and they match what you need for an old home,” Jeanine said.
It’s the cycle of searching and salvaging that the Westers say keeps them enjoying every day of the journey. 
Thomas said, “Being able to take an item that is destined for the landfill and forever forgotten and give it new life.”

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