TRP Rapid Deconstruction Strike Team

Two recent events (and I know it happens everywhere all the time) really got me worked up. The first was an article in a small trade paper, Architectural Salvage News, about the demolition of an 1854 Greek Revival house in Waukegan, Illinois. The other is the slated demolition of Griffin House, a National Register landmark built in 1901 for Willard Griffin, the founder of Del Monte Corporation.

Several things bother me about these disasters. First, both houses were owned by government entities. The Waukegan house was owned by Lake County and was razed to make room for additional parking at the county jail. The Griffin House is owned by the Foothill-De Anza Community College District. In California, community colleges are a part of state government. That’s right folks, the same state whose lawmakers created the California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB), which regulates the amount of waste going into our landfills and is responsible for the implementation of Assembly Bill 939, which mandates a 25-percent reduction in solid waste by 1995 and a 50-percent reduction by 2000. According to the CIWMB’s own statistics, only a small percentage of California’s cities and counties have met those goals.

Second, in both cases individuals and organizations were willing to go in and salvage some of the architectural treasures, but were not allowed to do so. In my not-so- humble opinion, this is absolutely criminal. Especially since both buildings were owned by government organizations with minimal liability exposure. It’s not like my old Aunt Martha, living on a pension with no liability insurance, allowing someone to de-roof her abandoned bungalow.

Third, because of my love of history I think it’s shameful to destroy historically significant structures. According to my figures, the largest category of residential deconstructions in California comprises houses built in the 1970s. Good grief, we salvage those ugly ducklings —I mean, after all, that was the decade that design forgot—and we can’t salvage a door from an 1854 Greek Revival or a 1901 Craftsman?

Enter the Strike Team

I believe that TRP and its certified deconstruction contractors could play a role in situations like these by forming a “strike team” capable of quick mobilization to places where historical buildings are endangered. This team would immediately prepare a proposal to capture the job that would be equal to or less than the demolition bid. Then all of the salvaged materials would be ours to distribute, possibly through or in cooperation with local historic commissions, which would receive a portion of the proceeds.


Ted Reiff
The ReUse People of America, Inc.

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