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Owners of Architectural Artifacts, Inc. make preserving history their business

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    Jane and Bob Cairl.

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    Jane and Bob Cairl, co-owners of Architectural Artifacts Inc., are pictured in their store Wednesday, February 14, 2018, in downtown Toledo. Architectural Artifacts Inc. has been in the business of buying, salvaging, and selling historic architectural elements for more than two decades.

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    Architectural Artifacts Inc., located at 20 S. Ontario St. in downtown Toledo.

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    Architectural Artifacts Inc., in downtown Toledo, has been in the business of buying, salvaging, and selling historic architectural elements for more than two decades.

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    Some of the items inside Architectural Artifacts Inc., in downtown Toledo.

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    The interior of Architectural Artifacts Inc., in downtown Toledo.

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    Some of the vintage toilets and fixtures in Architectural Artifacts Inc.

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    The interior of Architectural Artifacts Inc., is pictured, Wednesday, February 14, 2018.

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If they could speak, imagine the tales the irreplaceable historic gems stocked within the walls of Architectural Artifacts, Inc. could tell.

Chandeliers, sconces, and other light fixtures that once adorned the dining rooms of elaborate and stately homes, corporate board rooms, and the finest hotel lobbies.

Dusty vintage olive and mauve sinks, cast-iron tubs, and commodes are ready for a home remodeling project or waiting to complete the missing piece needed for a bathroom renovation.

Bob and Jane Cairl, owners of the salvage and resale business in the Toledo Warehouse District on Ontario Street, said they understand and appreciate how important it is to preserve the beauty of vintage doors, windows, fireplace mantels, and other architectural jewels that others have thrown away.

"We are committed to saving salvage items from the past and bringing them here, restoring them if needed, and market them to try to find a good home for them," Mr. Cairl said.

Their mantels, cornices, columns and, other items fill the three floors of the 1877 warehouse the couple opened to the public in 1995. The 20,000-square-foot building previously had been used as a factory for commercial ovens.

VIDEO: Bob and Jane Cairl of Architectural Artifacts, Inc.

"When we first started we were doing a lot of decorative objects, a lot of doors, and a lot of fire places," Mr. Cairl said.

The store has long been a destination of renovators and do-it-yourself homeowners looking to make repairs on the cheap and other treasure hunters. The couple said they can provide authentic original pieces that big box stores can't offer.

Mr. Cairl boasts an inventory of over 65,000 pieces of hardware — hinges, latches, plates, and knobs — for doors and cabinets and plumbing and fixtures for water faucets dating to the 1870s.

In a 7,000-square-foot building attached to the retail business houses a workshop, Mr. Cairl repairs and restores fixtures and manufactures custom pieces for customers.

A sort of superstore of old building parts, the inventory arrived to the store through a variety of sources and origins.

Some products were deemed outdated by homeowners and dismantled to sell in the store. The couple have traveled west as far as St. Louis and the deep south in Alabama to buy and dismantle salvaged parts.

"Somebody will approach us, like remodelers or builders, about an item or a whole house or room. We talk about it. We make an offer and we remove it," Mr. Cairl said. "Sometimes things will be brought to us, like a tub, toilet, or a sink."

An assortment of goods have come to the Cairls via the Internet, he added.

"But most people contact us about buildings or homes that are being torn down or renovated, and we go and remove things," he said.

Items in the store have been bought to use on movie sets, furnish restaurants, and create a showcase for a room in a new home.

An estimated 70 percent of the customers are from out-of-state, including England, China, and the Netherlands, said Mrs. Cairl.

"We have had really good customers from all over the country," she said.

On a recent afternoon, Elizabeth Castillo stepped into Architectural Artifacts in search of wood trim and moulding to match what exists in her 1940s-era home in Perrysburg Township.

The home had originally been built and moved on a trailer to its present location and underwent serveral additions, she explained.

"I don't like to replicate. I like to find the old stuff. Stain it or rip or whatever I have to do," she said. "We are not trying to modernize a house that doesn't have a time period. We are just trying to get timeless. We can find that here."

Contact Mark Reiter at: markreiter@theblade.com or 419-724-6199.

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