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To bring vintage Northeast Los Angeles homes back to their original beauty, professionals salvage parts from homes that were demolished elsewhere.

Hot real estate markets in Northeast Los Angeles (NELA) have been driven by the demand for period, character homes. Homes for sale in Glassell Park, Hermon and Garvanza, for instance, have put these up-to-now little known regions on the map. Younger homebuyers are snapping up these homes quickly and quietly in the hopes of restoring these homes to their original grandeur. 

Vintage homes tell stories, particularly in NELA. Just talk to some of the handful of multi-generational owners of fine old California Bungalows or sweet Victorians in places like Pasadena, Mt. Washington, Hermon or Eagle Rock. They will have tales to tell.

For newer owners of vintage homes in NELA, their first story is usually about the challenges of renovation and restoration. Regardless of whether they found homes for sale in Garvanza or Highland Park or Glendale most appealing, the problems for the fixer-upper is the missing parts of those old-homes. There might have been an unfortunate door replacement in 1962, with nary an original hinge or doorknob in sight. Perhaps the built in cabinetry of a dining room was inexplicably discarded, or a HVAC grate was replaced with a sad, old-timey-looking reproduction purchased at the big box hardware store in 1997. 

How does a home restorer make up for the tragedy of missing pieces? Vintage homes are bit analogous to the kidney patient who needs a transplant. For every beautiful Tudor Revival, Art Deco, or Mission Revival home that is being restored, there is a similar home somewhere that is, sadly, being demolished. But very often the doorknobs, fireplace surrounds, built-in cabinetry, leaded glass windows, or Spanish tiles are spared from going to a landfill and instead warehoused for resale to the restorers.

The “transplant doctors” are architectural salvage companies, professionals who collect useful items from buildings that have suffered a fire, neglect, or are in the way of development that doesn’t honor historic homes. When one of those places go, it’s akin to when a car accident victim doesn’t survive: his or her heart, kidneys, corneas and liver will live on – in another person. 

The historic architectural salvage companies tend to be regional, due to the physical nature of the industry and the costs of transporting such things as fireplace surrounds and chandeliers. And it takes work to ply through their inventory. To be certain of what you are getting – to match colors, or to check the item’s quality and functionality, for example – you probably should check out the merchandise in person. Be sure to budget at least an hour or two, possibly more, for the excursion. For the fan of vintage homes it’s possible to get lost in the treasure trove of these typically warehouse-size operations.

To find salvagers near you, do an internet search for terms such as “Los Angeles architectural salvage” or “Los Angeles antique door” or “Los Angeles vintage architectural restoration parts.” There are several near NELA. 

In your search you might also find furniture, rugs, and other items that are from the period home you are restoring. Which is another reason why going to these stores and websites will be beneficial – and time consuming, and perhaps put a divot into your credit card balance. But isn’t that the fun of restoring an old home – giving it new stories to tell?

Northeast Los Angeles is rich with vintage homes and their histories. Realtor Tracy King has assisted buyers, sellers, and restorers of homes with real estate transactions in this area for a quarter century. Call her to discuss the type of home you want to make beautiful and authentic again: 323-243-1234.

tracy 150x175With over 30 years experience in helping clients buy and sell homes in Northeast Los Angeles, Tracy King has a depth of real estate knowledge that makes her the go-to for both the first-time home buyer and the seasoned real estate investor. When she's not holding open houses or negotiating offers, Tracy enjoys wine tasting, cooking, or planning her next trip to Paris. If you are looking to buy or sell a home in Northeast Los Angeles, contact the Tracy King Team at 626.827.9795 or