Forget Oprah, deep dish pizza, and the Cubs. Chicago is all about architectural salvage.
When buildings are dismantled or renovated, architectural artifacts– like corbels, doors and fireplace mantels– are often removed in tact and sold to salvage shops. These upcycled gems can be incorporated into remodels and new constructions or restorations of historic structures.
It’s no surprise that a city like Chicago, with world class architecture, would also have outstanding architectural salvage. So when I took a recent trip to Chicago, I made sure to visit the top rated salvage stores in the city.
Architectural Artifacts, 4325 N. Ravenswood, is housed in a remarkable 80,000-square-foot showroom. The inventory is vast and eclectic; they carry everything from theater seats to gargoyles, religious artifacts to neon signs. Architectural Artifacts is an incredible resource for one-of-a-kind items and special statement pieces. My favorite finds included a 19th-century blue and white Delft tile mosaic, which depicts Frans Hals’ Married Couple in a Garden, and a gorgeous French art deco wet bar with mint green and chrome accents.
The open central atrium of Architectural Artifacts.
The front entryway of the store features industrial cabinets, a barber pole, and oversized clock faces.
I adore this 19th-century blue and white Delft tile mural depicting Frans Hals’ Married Couple in a Garden.
Industrial metal multi-drawer cabinets sit next to a row of forest green theater seats.
An eagle gargoyle and 25 cent slot machine.
French art deco wet bar with mint green and chrome accents.
Salvage One, 1840 W. Hubbard, has four floors of inventory. In addition to the typical architectural artifacts, like clawfoot tubs and columns, Salvage One also boasts a great selection of mid-century modern furniture and accessories. Both Salvage One and Architectural Artifacts pull double duty as event venues as well.
Doric columns, a stone fireplace surround, leaded glass window, and chandeliers on display at Salvage One.
A cardboard image of Johnny Carson hangs out next to arcade games and a vintage car.
A large scale blue mid-century bar with chrome accents.
Salvage One carries both architectural artifacts, like clawfoot tubs, as well as furniture, like this mid-century dining set.
Industrial light fixtures.
A smattering of vintage metal channel letters.
Left: Mid-century modern chairs and sofas. Right: an antique set of mailboxes.
Urban Remains, 1850 W. Grand Avenue, specializes in industrial finds, like metal chairs, lockers, pulleys, cabinets, and light fixtures. The store carries many strange and beautiful manufacturing artifacts, like industrial molds and antique tools. The Urban Remains website has a comprehensive catalogue of inventory, so it’s a great resource for online shopping as well.