Year In Review: Earthwise Architectural Salvage

For more than two decades, Seattle-based Earthwise Architectural Salvage has been a destination for DIY homeowners, interior designers, contractors, architects, carpenters, and artists looking to buy or sell salvaged building materials. You might have even seen some of the company’s salvaged lumber, iron work, and vintage light fixtures in many Seattle shops, restaurants, and bars, including Starbucks-owned Roy Street Coffee and Tea, Grim’s Restaurant and Lounge, Oddfellows Cafe and Bar, Rudy’s Barbershop, and The Kingfish Cafe.

The company expanded to Tacoma’s East Side last year.

In May, the Tacoma Daily Index featured the company and its owner Kurt Petrauskas.

“We’ve been up in Seattle for over 20 years, so we’re pretty embedded there,” Petrauskas, who graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in biology before moving to Seattle and finding work as a general contractor, told the Index. “I [thought about] Tacoma because there’s nothing like it. Tacoma’s got a great history. It’s actually older than Seattle. I said, ‘I think Tacoma has the market and the surrounding area.’”

Petrauskas got into the salvage business after high-end home renovations and demolitions sent him to the local landfill one too many times. He was so sure the materials he was throwing away were perfectly salvageable that he decided to buy an old house and completely gut and renovate it using the scraps he scavenged and scrounged from demolition job sites. Sometimes he would even drive around the city scouting for home demolitions and ask if he could haul the old lumber, doors, and windows away. Other times he would go to the local landfill, scope out building materials other contractors were getting ready to toss, and ask if he could haul some of it away.

During our interview (A New Life For Old Homes: Seattle’s Earthwise Architectural Salvage expands to TacomaTacoma Daily Index, May 30, 2013), Petrauskas discussed the company’s early history, his decision to open in Tacoma, interesting items his company has salvaged (a rare needle-nosed shower dating back to the late-1880′s and salvaged out of a North Slope Tacoma home, for example), his interest in historic preservation, and changes within the industry over the past 20 years.

“Everybody who comes in the store really enjoys it and likes it, so we’re starting to gain a little bit of traction in the area,” he added. “There are very creative people in Tacoma. Some of our really good clients in Seattle are actually Tacoma residents.”

"Tacoma's got a great history," said Seattle-based Earthwise Architectural Salvage owner Kurt Petrauskas. "There are very creative people in Tacoma. Some of our really good clients in Seattle are actually Tacoma residents." (FILE PHOTO BY TODD MATTHEWS)

“Tacoma’s got a great history,” said Seattle-based Earthwise Architectural Salvage owner Kurt Petrauskas. “There are very creative people in Tacoma. Some of our really good clients in Seattle are actually Tacoma residents.” (FILE PHOTO BY TODD MATTHEWS)

To read the Tacoma Daily Index‘s complete and comprehensive coverage of Earthwise Architectural Salvage, click on the following links:

Todd Matthews is editor of the Tacoma Daily Index and recipient of an award for Outstanding Achievement in Media from the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation for his work covering historic preservation in Tacoma and Pierce County. He has earned four awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, including third-place honors for his feature article about the University of Washington’s Innocence Project; first-place honors for his feature article about Seattle’s bike messengers; third-place honors for his feature interview with Prison Legal News founder Paul Wright; and second-place honors for his feature article about whistle-blowers in Washington State. His work has also appeared in All About Jazz, City Arts Tacoma, Earshot Jazz, Homeland Security Today, Jazz Steps, Journal of the San Juans, Lynnwood-Mountlake Terrace Enterprise, Prison Legal News, Rain Taxi, Real Change, Seattle Business Monthly, Seattle magazine, Tablet, Washington CEO, Washington Law & Politics, and Washington Free Press. He is a graduate of the University of Washington and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications. His journalism is collected online at wahmee.com.