Preserving history one built-in hutch at a time didn’t used to be much of a thought or concern. Most likely due to the fact that we weren’t destroying history at such a pace as we do today. However, in the last 20 years, more homes and community institutions are being demolished than ever before. Beautiful and unique pieces of our country’s story and foundation are being sent to the landfill at an alarming rate.
However, Bauer Brothers is a company dedicated to protecting historical and rare items hoping to provide them with a second chance at life. A way to prove their high quality worth, and a chance to let their story continue.
Walking into the 93,000 sq ft warehouse, you are immediately met with treasures and trinkets, vintage building materials, and antique gems. Every piece with its story to tell and secret to share. It calls to you. Connecting you to history where details are vague, but time stamped none the less. A time long past, when these lost pieces, broken and worn, were in their prime. Where they were cared for in their construction and shined as the star of the show in the home they lived. Now with time gone by, these treasures have lived through natural disasters, war, death, active families, repairs, and depressions. Vintage woodwork, porcelain, designer windows, all once upon a time were crafted with a rare time honored tradition, one that has been replaced by mass produced lower quality products. These treasured items still exist because of the high quality in which they were made. A quality that we are missing today and many are trying to restore.
Bauer Brothers salvage is a reprieve in the overly massed produced construction business. It is a haven where you can find literally almost anything from light fixtures, to knobs, doors, flooring, tiles and radiators. Back in 1957 Mr. Bauer was a carpenter who saw a need to protect to precious history before homes were torn down. Before a home’s demolition, Herman and his sons would go into a home and strip it of everything they could save, even if it was nailed down. They took the doors, sinks, wood floors, vanities, windows, they took it all in effort to keep it from the landfill. Not yet even having a way to sell these treasures, they stored them in their garage and every so slowly, started to build up their salvage business. Eventually they found themselves located in a warehouse at Arlington Avenue and Jackson Street in St. Paul.
A couple of warehouses and a grain belt building once housed this family’s passion for restoration and salvage, but it finally found its long-term home over on 2nd St. in North Minneapolis where it is currently located. Even now, the 93,000 square feet can’t contain it as it spills into the yard, the street and now even another 8,000 ft. warehouse space across the street. It is easily the largest salvage store in the surrounding states, boasting the largest variety of used, vintage, and antique items in the five state area.
Gatherhaus got the opportunity to sit down with Russ Bauer, Herman’s second son who now runs the store, and talk to him about what he loves in his job, and how might those who are new to restoration and preservation navigate the treasure hunt that is his store. Like always, as I search for a tangible specific answer to make my journey easier, I am gifted with the answer that will point me on my own journey in discovering what vintage and antiques are right for me.
His advice? If you are new to Bauer Brothers, make sure you have time for your first visit, and don’t plan on buying anything. Your first experience should be focused on exploring, experiencing and soaking in all the history around you. Your first time can be a bit overwhelming, so just take it slow and gather information and be inspired by all you see. Then when you have a project in mind, come back for the hunt. This salvage yard is used by commercial builders as well as individual homeowners and interested collectors. It draws everyone in who might just be starting their love affair with antiques, or have spent countless years immersed in the culture. Even Rehab Addict’s Nicole Curtis is a frequent visitor to the store, keeping up with her commitment for restoration of individual pieces to bring a whole home back to life.
At the main hub, there really isn’t anything you won’t find. When going into homes to strip them and preserve what they can, the team at Bauer Brothers really doesn’t want to leave anything behind. They know that with demolition all will be lost. In a last ditch effort, they will take everything they can in hopes that someone will take these treasures home. We also got to spend some time and gain some insight from Daniel with Deconstruction, who is a part of the Bauer Brothers team, but also specializes in barn building materials and unique artifacts.
As we focus this month on restoration and vintage antiques, we hope you will take some time to go and discover the gift the Twin Cities offers in this destination location. Grab a coffee and enjoy a walk around as you feel the history inspire you to reclaim it and give some of these pieces another shot at a new story. Thank you Russ Bauer and your family and team for what you do to keep our history alive. What a gift you give us.
Gatherhaus is the enchanting reality of bringing these rare and beautiful pieces together.
People, places, art, and food that inspire us and make us chase after dreams
of deep, rich community and fulfillment.