WRITER | CANDIE CONAT
PHOTOS | RECLAIMED MICHIGAN
Reclaimed Michigan in Waterford Township is preserving our state’s history one barn at a time. A few years ago, Bill McDonald’s wife Veronica came up with a project for him. It involved old barn wood, and, believe it or not, they had a hard time locating what they needed. Finally, after quite a search, they found what they were looking for. Once the project was finished, there were a few pieces of barn wood left over. McDonald decided to list them for sale online, and they sold within an hour. That was his lightbulb moment; this barn wood stuff might be a “thing.” The whole idea “spiraled out of control from there,” as McDonald puts it. His neighbor, Matt Halcrow, has become a big part of the business and is now a partner. McDonald said, “I started feeling bad asking him for help all the time, so I figured he might as well join the business.”
The two visit old barn and homestead sites to determine what materials they can salvage for reuse (with the barn owner’s permission, of course). That’s pretty much anything they think someone will be able to repurpose as a finished addition to their home. We’re not just talking barn wood, but also shutters, pulleys, and hay trolleys, along with light fixtures and old black pipe used for industrial-style items. They have even found old cabinet radios that can be made into bars, bookshelves, or end tables.
McDonald and Halcrow are continuously busy creating large custom items for homes around the country. Their most popular pieces are tables and mantels, with window shutters and barn doors following close behind.
Reclaimed Michigan has a warehouse that is over 7,000-square-feet where the public is welcome to visit and claim finished gems or search for treasures to use in their DIY projects. Smaller household décor such as decorative birdhouses, centerpieces, and custom signs — all hand painted by Veronica — are very popular.
Drawing on the historical aspect of the business, McDonald and Halcrow enjoy taking photos of every building they reclaim and learn as much of its history as possible. They share the information with customers who purchase the material or the custom finished products made from the buildings. Many will carve the date of the original building into their completed piece for posterity.
Recently, McDonald and Halcrow visited an old farmhouse in Clarkston scheduled for demolition. The home was originally built in 1835 and is the oldest building they have salvaged from to date. Most of the barns and homes they find date from 1870 to 1920, but, when cutting beams, they have been able to count growth rings and work backward to find that some of the wood used in construction dates all the way back to the 1700s. That is amazing stuff.
Reclaimed Michigan 1179 Sylvertis Road, Suite B, Waterford Township, MI 48328 l (313) 231-1397 l ReclaimedMi.com