March 11, 2019
Many years ago, back in Old Portland, when Mississippi Avenue was a sleepy neighborhood street, the ReBuilding Center started its deconstruction services. The first crew was made up of a mix of scrappers, carpenters and eco enthusiasts, many of whom were in their late 20s or early 30s coming from all over, attracted to the creative, gritty, and beautiful Pacific Northwest. This first group of deconstructionists included Preston Browning, a native of Virginia and a long-time Portlander, and Der Lovett, fresh from Cork, Ireland. They worked at the Rebuilding Center alongside a band of other hard-working, quirky, and rogue characters for a number of years, forming a lasting friendship and, eventually, a unique business partnership.
In 2004, Der started Lovett Deconstruction. A few years later, he bought a building in the North Portland neighborhood of Kenton (where Revive Upholstery and Prince Coffee now operate). Der and his small team used the building as an office, storage space and yard where he sold materials from his deconstruction projects. In 2008, Lovett Deconstruction downsized to weather the economic downturn, opening up the building for rent, and eventually, in 2010, Preston took over the space to open Salvage Works with his sister, Rachel.
At the beginning, Savage Works was smaller, boasting a wide array of eclectic collectibles, architectural salvage, vintage hardware and batches of heritage wood stock. Then, as now, Lovett Deconstruction was Salvage Works’ prime supplier of building materials. Over the years, as both companies have grown, the partnership has deepened. Lovett Deconstruction and Salvage Works have both become more specialized--Lovett on precise, surgical deconstruction for home remodels, as well as large-scale, methodical disassembly of full structures, and Salvage Works on design, production and the sale of unique, high-quality heritage lumber and handmade furniture. Now, Lovett Deconstruction is Salvage Works’ sole supplier of heritage house wood, old growth material, coveted by furniture makers for its exceptional quality and character.
As Lovett Deconstruction has grown to a team of 35 employees running 5-6 jobs daily, so has Salvage Works, moving to a 25,000 square foot compound a block over in Kenton with 11 employees, complete with a spacious showroom and expanded warehouse. Its material and furniture can be found in homes, bars, and restaurants all over the Northwest.
Salvage Works is the only reclaimed wood seller in Portland that kiln-dries every stick of wood to ensure stability and to make sure none of the material has insects or hidden mold. Salvage Works’ reputation, high quality material, skilled and knowledgeable staff, as well as its unique aesthetic, have made it the gold standard in reclaimed wood. Salvage Works maintains its mission to support its local community through active involvement in the North Portland Tool Library, The Kenton Business Association, The Kenton Women’s Village, and the Paul Bunyan Restoration effort, which recently won the prestigious DeMuro Award from Restore Oregon.
Both Salvage Works and Lovett Deconstruction participated in the Deconstruction Advisory Committee for the City of Portland, helping to bring about the nation’s first deconstruction ordinance, requiring all buildings 100 years old or more to be deconstructed for material reuse. Lovett Deconstruction gives back to the community through an annual, family-friendly fundraiser called The Drop Box Derby, pitting builders and salvage experts against each other in a race to build the coolest item from reclaimed building material. Each year has a theme and a non-profit recipient of the money raised. This year, all funds are going to benefit Raphael House whose mission is to engage the entire community in non-violent living through advocacy, education, and community outreach, and by providing a safe haven from domestic violence. Salvage Works is a committed sponsor of the Drop Box Derby. Held every Labor Day, this year’s Derby is September 2nd.
Preston and Rachel are proud of Salvage Works’ good working relationships with companies like Lovett Deconstruction. We look forward to many, many more years together. Thank you, Der and Kate, for including Salvage Works in your business family. Keep the wood coming!