If you’ve ever wondered if you can buy pieces of the stained glass windows from Kennedy Airport or dining sets from the Waldorf Astoria, then one business has the answer.
Olde Good Things, an architectural salvage company with six locations nationally, including three stores in New York City, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year by opening a sizable new store at 333 W. 52nd St. The new space, slated to open its doors near the end of the year, will replace the company’s location at 5 E. 16th St. and is approximately four times the size and includes a garage to accommodate both the loading of larger pieces and the privacy of more discreet customers.
Olde Good Things finds its items from a wide variety of establishments, from mansions and airports to theaters and office buildings. It strikes deals with places that are being renovated or shut down, allowing the company’s salvage crew to keep items worth saving. They take free-standing pieces like chairs and tables, but also larger items like light fixtures and entire mantles, which is no simple feat.
“It’s not something everybody can do,” said Madeline Beauchamp, who works in sales for Olde Good Things. “It’s very meticulous work. There’s a lot more involved with it than just ripping things out. We extracted 250 marble mantles from the Waldorf Astoria. They’re antiques from the 1930s and prone to breaking up but our crew was able to.” Salvaging from the famed hotel took place in 2017, following two years of negotiations between Olde Good Things and Waldorf Astoria, Beauchamp said.
The care required in salvaging is clear when you consider the stained glass from Kennedy Airport, which was said to be the largest stained glass window in the world when it was installed. The salvagers removed it piece by painstaking piece. Those windows have since been sold to private homes and commercial buyers, including a designer for the shoemaker Christian Louboutin.
Olde Good Things has capitalized on several trends in home and business decoration.
“We specialize in taking out the copper-clad windows from turn-of-the-century buildings,” Beauchamp said. “We’ve done the Flatiron Building, Copper Union and the Toy Center. We clean them and install mirrors in them. Those have been some of our biggest sellers for homes.”
Other popular items have included corrugated chicken wire windows, century-old industrial holophane lights, and tin ceiling panels that designers and homeowners make into wall art. "I thought that one was going to be a short-lived fad, but people are still buying them and it’s been 20 years,” Beauchamp said.
Customers range from regular homeowners looking for a nice table to invest in, to more affluent designers decorating a second home outside of New York City. A handful of celebrities, including actors and musicians, also frequent the stores, Beauchamp said. The company’s business with the entertainment industry isn’t limited to celebrities’ homes though. “Movie studios have been renting from us to use items on set for years,” she said. “Warner Bros., ‘Madam Secretary’ and ‘Boardwalk Empire’ were all customers.”
Beauchamp has been with the company since its inception in 1994, when it got its start in Chelsea amid the popular antique flea markets. Olde Good Things began by dealing in antique hardware, but found its niche when it expanded into architectural pieces. After a quarter-century in the business, there aren’t many establishments to salvage from left on Beauchamp’s wish list. “Not unless they ever take down the Eiffel Tower or renovate the Empire State Building,” she said, laughing.