Many people who are restoring their old or antique homes have no interest in using reproductions — they want the genuine article. Three places that carry authentic goods are conveniently located within a few miles of each other in the South End.
If you’re in the market for antique salvage to restore your home — like a marble fireplace mantel, a stained glass window, an over-the-mantel mirror, or even old doorknobs — checking out Restoration Resources is a must.
For 26 years, owner Bill Raymer has been rescuing such artifacts, all orderly showcased in his 7,000-square-foot storefront located on the border of the South End and Roxbury. But beware, it’s easy to drive right past the place — despite a huge sign from the past that still juts out from the building announcing: “Sriberg, 5 floors of Fine Furniture.”
Raymer unearths his eclectic inventory from estates, historic buildings, and old churches all over New England. His prices run the gamut: wood and marble mantels, for example, go from $500 to $9,500; over-the-mantel, parlor, and hallway mirrors, $200 to $5,500; and stained glass windows $200 to $950. Raymer says he will listen to offers.
The salvage expert shows a visitor one of his personal favorites in the store — a large carved pier mirror, circa 1860, that he reclaimed from a house in the Back Bay. Pier mirrors were originally intended to be placed between two windows in a parlor. But now people also use them in other areas of the house such as in an entranceway or a bedroom.
“Everything about this pier mirror is original and it’s in nearly mint condition,” Raymer says. “Take a look at the gold-leaf finish. It has aged beautifully to a nice mellow patina. It’s just a magnificent piece.” It’s priced at a cool $8,500.
Raymer also points out a highly carved, white marble mantel, circa 1890, with floral and vine decoration that he recycled out of a brick row house in the South End.
“It has an arched opening, which is traditional for the area, and comes equipped with a decorative cast iron cover to place in front of the arch during the summer months,” Raymer says. The price: $4,500.
Raymer notes that his customers are often interested in creatively “repurposing” the relics they buy from him into architectural art.
“You can take, for instance, an ornamental building element or an industrial gear and hang it on a wall and it looks great,” he says. “People are doing things like this even in modern homes to add some old character and charm to the place.”
Raymer also says home owners buy stained glass windows not to install, but to hang inside in front of a regular window, or on a wall as part of a fabricated light box.
Brendan Haley, a designer and builder, bought a big old factory cart with a wooden top and large iron wheels from Raymer to use as a coffee table in his own digs. “I’m always popping in his place to see what kind of new stuff he has,” he says. “There’s always something new and different I can find there.”
“Many of the things I sell are one-of-a-kind or hard to find and have been coveted for a long time for their beauty and their craftsmanship,” Raymer says. “Now many of my customers also like the important added benefits of not only preserving our heritage, but preserving our environment at the same time by keeping these things out of the landfills.”
1946 Washington St., Boston, 617-542-3033, www.restorationresources.com
A few miles away, Tom Powers lights up when he talks about antique lighting.
Powers’s business, aptly named Light Power, operates out of an old, gritty building on Wareham Street in the South End, where he sells everything from Victorian- and Arts and Crafts-era lighting to pieces from the 1940s, all rewired to code.
As for his favorite piece in his current inventory, Powers shows a visitor a matched pair of circa 1857 gold and black four-light chandeliers with four allegorical visages, framed with gold garlands, gazing down into the room.
“They’re Rococo Revival in style, a subperiod of the Victorian era,” Powers explains. “They’re just spectacular. They’re all original and were made by a really fine lighting manufacturer of the time.” The fixtures each come with their four original, deeply etched glass shades. The price for the pair is $19,500.
If your budget is a bit more down to earth, Powers has chandeliers in stock starting at $550 for a three-light, polychrome, Art Deco number from the 1930s. Prices for pendant lights (a light fixture that’s suspended from the ceiling on a rod or chain) begin at $380; inverted domes, $725; sconces, $250; and hanging indoor lanterns, $790. Powers will adjust hanging fixtures where possible to achieve the proper “drop” in a customer’s house.
He runs various promotions throughout the year — during the holidays, for example, he offered 25 percent off everything in the place.
“I’ve purchased a number of lights from Tom,” says customer John O’Connor of Boston. “I live in a Greek Revival house and I got a pair of fabulous chandeliers from him that I hung in my parlor that are perfectly suited to my house. They make quite the statement, you know!”
To buy these chandeliers, O’Connor took advantage of Powers’s policy of allowing customers who purchase a light from him to trade it in for full credit toward another fixture that better suits their tastes or needs.
Powers used to be in the general antique business, but decided in 1979 to specialize in antique lighting. “Even as a kid, I liked old things,” he says. “Believe me when I tell you that the new lighting that you buy today in no way has the esthetic and craftsmanship of the old stuff.”
Powers points out an inverted dome consisting of a mosaic of more than 200 small green marbleized glass segments distributed over six panels housed in bronze metal work. “This is a very impressive example from the Art Nouveau period at the turn of the 19th century,” Powers says. “The foliate detail in the metal provides an organic feel to the dome.” Price: $4,520.
Powers will also restore old lighting that people bring in.
“My customers want authenticity,” he says. “They want to be true to their houses and they make that a priority.”
59A Wareham St., Boston, 617-423-9790, www.genuineantiquelighting.net
Jim Anderson Stained Glass
If you have stained glass windows with broken or missing panels, Jim Anderson, whose shop is also in the South End, can work his magic.
“I can repair a piece of stained glass so most of the time you cannot tell where it’s been fixed,” says Anderson. He uses stained glass manufactured by companies that have been in business for a hundred years and still make the same colors and textures. Depending on what needs to be done, Anderson charges $150 to $350 a square foot for his restoration work.
A graduate of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Anderson has been in business since the 1970s.
“I started out at the school studying painting, but I took a class in stained glass and the rest is history,” he says.“To my mind, no painting can achieve the intense radiance of a good piece of stained glass.” He equates its use in a house to “jewelry on a woman.”
“We had a really large, really ornate, four-panel stained glass window that needed a lot of work,” says Greg Caruso, who lives in an 1884 house in Dorchester. “It was sagging and five or six years ago someone put a broom handle through it accidently and broke the glass. Jim restored it and the repair is totally undetectable. The man is a master at what he does.”
Lucille Rossignol, who owns an 1873 home in Wellesley, calls Jim “a perfectionist,” but says he’s easy to work with. “He’s a big man, but he has a real gentle way about him.”
If something is totally unfixable, Anderson can make copies, as he did for singer Carly Simon when she lived on Beacon Hill. When a matched pair of engraved, crest-shaped, beveled mirror mounts to a set of sconces somehow got broken, she commissioned Anderson to make exact copies. But the singer left town for good and never picked them up. “She paid me, though,” Anderson says, and the two pieces now decorate his studio.
With a staff of five, Anderson also designs and makes new custom stained glass pieces for clients.
“I like the idea of having my work in a window of a house or in an outside door so when people walk by they get to take pleasure in what is lit-up art work,” he says. “It benefits the whole neighborhood.”
548 Tremont St., Boston, 617-357-5166, www.jimandersonstainedglass.com