Photos: Andrew McMurtrie. Lisa Fullerman, left, watches as her husband Bruce Fullerman, center, and Alex Montes, right, load salvage materials they purchased during the Pre-Demolition, Salvage Pickin' and Porch Party on Saturday in Norcross. The Norcross community is taking a conservation-minded approach to a demolition project slated for North Cemetery Street, a block down from the city's historic downtown district. Two houses, circa 1900 -1930, are being removed to prepare for future development and their architectural elements are sold.
NORCROSS -- John and Judy Heald got new shutters Saturday. Sort of.
The city of Norcross hosted its two-hour Pre-Demolition, Salvage Pickin' and Porch Party on Saturday morning. The name was a mouthful but the concept was simple -- a pair of homes built in the early 1900s were scheduled for demolition, and the Sustainable Norcross group wanted to make good use of them.
Residents were invited to stop by and dig through collections of century-old architectural elements (doors, porch swings, flooring), purchasing the items with money that would then be redirected to help counteract the cost of redevelopment.
The Healds wound up going home with a set of antique shutters.
"This is unique and fun. All this fun old material, I wish I was more creative and (could) think of what to do with it," John Heald said with a laugh, gesturing toward his wife.
"But she's going to make me do something with it."
The homes on North Cemetery Street just outside downtown Norcross do lie in the designated historic district, but because parts had been remodeled and renovated over the years, weren't designated as historic sites themselves, Sustainable Norcross' Connie Weathers said.
By selling off parts others might be able to reuse, the project would send less to the landfill, she said.
"Doing things in an environmentally friendly way is a part of the whole underlying theme," Weathers said. "We thought this would be innovative, and an opportunity to educate people in a different way of doing things. You don't just have to plow the house down and scoop and run to the landfill."
Visitors milled in and around the circa-1900 Queen Anne cottage in the shadow of Lillian Webb Park, banjo and fiddle music making its way from the back porch as they were welcomed by women dressed in clothing from the era. A quilter and group of painters also added to the festive feel.
Norcross resident Nancy McGarrah made it out with a mantelpiece, several doors and a set of old spindles.
"I think it's cool. I love old houses and architectural pieces," she said. "It's better than tearing it down and not using the stuff."
Saturday's site and a neighboring home built in 1926 were purchased by the city in 2008, when it bought the right of way to expand the sidewalk leading into downtown. Weathers said some residents were "upset about getting rid of some historic structures," but that the homes had become an eyesore at one of the gateways to Norcross.
The homes will be torn down by the end of the month, she said, but not before the public got its chance to pick out interesting pieces for reuse -- whether they knew what to do with them or not.
"It will be interesting to see what happens with those (shutters)," Judy Heald said with a grin.
If you are having problems viewing this slide show, click here