By Alex Bridges
A historic home in Mount Jackson faces demolition this week to make way for a new office building for Holtzman Corporation.
But pieces of the 101-year-old, Nelson House can live on in other home-restoration projects thanks to a Roanoke-based company whose exploits appear in the DIY cable TV network show Salvage Dawgs. The segment on the house and Mount Jackson should air on the network in the fall when the third season begins.
Black Dog Salvage came to Mount Jackson early last week and finished pulling pieces and material from the house on Main Street on Thursday, company co-owner Robert Kulp said by phone Friday.
A property owner contacts the salvage company typically when a building faces demolition, Kulp said. The company then tries to bid on the value of the items it might salvage.
"Most of the time owners are looking to mitigate the cost of demolition because, obviously, it costs a lot of money to tear down a house," Kulp said. "What we look for are people who want to save historic items or items of value because they have to be motivated by that because there's not a huge return from the salvage."
Todd Holtzman contacted Black Dog a couple of months ago to see if the firm had an interest in taking pieces of the house for re-use, Kulp recalled.
"In this case, we thankfully got a call about two months ago from them saying 'hey, do you have any interest in this?' and there are several people with the company who are fans of the show, and that always helps," Kulp said.
Holtzman waited on Black Dog to schedule the salvage visit, Kulp said. It appeared to him that Holtzman did not want to see the items wasted, he added.
"Obviously it was a cool, nice old house," Kulp said. "Unfortunately, by the time we got out there somebody had already gotten in there and helped themselves to some of the parts, it appeared, on the inside. But that's kind of what we deal with all the time."
Kulp said when his company received pictures of the house from Holtzman a couple of months ago the building appeared complete. By the time Black Dog arrived to begin its work, some of the doors and fixtures had been removed, Kulp said.
Black Dog was able to salvage the roofing tiles, brackets on the outside and some items from the inside. The work took several days to complete and the crew salvaged a lot of material, Kulp said.
Black Dog's visit to Mount Jackson and the Nelson House mirrors the company's first job. It salvaged items from a house offered free by its owner to anyone who could move the building, Kulp said. Relocating a house often becomes too costly, he noted.
"I'm a preservationist by heart," Kulp said. "I love old houses.
"But there comes a time when the next stop is the landfill and somebody's gotta take some action," Kulp added. "Somebody's gotta keep this stuff out of the landfill while other people talk about all the great things that could've been done."
Marketing the salvaged materials from the Nelson House may prove difficult, Kulp said, though the TV show should help. The company often has to house its hauls for months, sometimes years, before it finds buyers, Kulp said. But he noted that the company may have potential buyers in mind for the roofing tiles and the brackets.
"There's a market for that vintage style and color [of roofing tile]," Kelp said. "But we gotta hock this stuff. It'll be nice when it's on TV in eight months ,and maybe we can sell it to someone who sees it on TV."
The house must come down to make way for a four-story expansion to Holtzman's offices. Town Council on Tuesday approved the special-use permit Holtzman needed to move forward on the plan. Councilmen Todd Holtzman and Donald "Donnie" Pifer abstained from the vote because they both work for Holtzman.
After the meeting, Todd Holtzman commented on the salvage and pending demolition of the house. The councilman said that while it was disappointing to see the house razed, the segment on the salvage effort would put Mount Jackson in the spotlight.
Last week, as Black Dog removed pieces from the house, local businessman Gerald Forsburg said by email that he generally supports architectural salvage when no alternatives exist. Forsburg said he did not support the salvage at the Nelson House because he had offered an alternative -- move the building to a town-owned lot on King Street for private use. Holtzman gave Forsburg until Dec. 31 to move the building, but Town Council asked him to provide details about his plan. Eventually Forsburg ran out of time.
Forsburg said he received emails and phone calls from people who called the salvage and the pending demolition "heartbreaking," "disgraceful," "disgusting," and "ignorant."
"Not only is Mount Jackson destroying one of its local landmarks, but it is now doing so on national television, and without so much as a payment from the network to film here," Forsburg said.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org