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Savannah women are setting an example by turning historic homes into heritage building materials

This women-led crew of workers is working hard to deconstruct old heritage houses so the materials can be recycled and repurposed.

Savannah women are setting an example by turning historic homes into heritage building materials
Cover Image Source: Instagram | @repurposesavannah

Savannah, a city located in Georgia, is known for more than just its coastal beauty. The portside city is stacked with charm and history and each street will greet you with elegance and exquisite infrastructures. Savannah residents can swear that the city is always open for people who want to embrace art, culture and learn about history while taking a walk down some street lined with townhouses and oak trees.  


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Re:Purpose Savannah (@repurposesavannah)


 

 

According to Good News Network, this is where a team of female-led non-profit workers is putting on their pink safety vests to see through the growing business of recycling and reusing, which is also known as deconstruction. In the thriving deconstruction business in Savannah, these ladies are taking parts from heritage buildings that were constructed with high-quality endangered timbers and reusing them to construct new homes before these buildings are torn apart and thrown in a landfill.


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Re:Purpose Savannah (@repurposesavannah)


 

 

The team of women workers under Re: Purpose Savannah take abandoned or old condemned structures apart to reutilize their timber, bricks, door frames, and metals. These items are then used to build homes for interested clients. So far, the team has deconstructed cottages, bungalows, traditional homes, and beach houses in Savannah. Even though it takes more effort to deconstruct a house compared to just demolishing it using excavators or bulldozers, it was the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic which gave a boost to this niche business.


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Re:Purpose Savannah (@repurposesavannah)


 

 

"When COVID happened the price of lumber skyrocketed, all our lumber was coming from elsewhere," Mae Bowley, the executive director of Re: Purpose Savannah said in a mini-documentary shot by The Christian Science Monitor on YouTube. "My supply, which is local, didn’t dry up, I didn’t have to raise my prices a penny." Compared to the soaring price of other lumbers in the market, Bowley's company supplied salvaged lumber at reasonable rates, leading their business to flourish further.



 

 

Katie Fitzhugh, the director of deconstruction on the team, elaborated further about their deconstruction process. "We essentially unbuild the structure from top to bottom. I've taken about seven structures down. I grew up in a historic home with my parents. So we were always restoring different structures," she said. Fitzhugh leads the field team, watches her crew's safety and teaches them construction skills. The wood salvaged by Bowley and her crew comes from trees that are no longer used for lumber since they have been declared endangered and were used to construct heritage buildings long ago.


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Re:Purpose Savannah (@repurposesavannah)


 

 

Timbers from trees like white and red oak, longleaf pine, walnut, sweetgum, and hickory are among those endangered trees out of which longleaf pine in particular is known for its high-quality wood which holds a tensile strength higher than steel too. These women are selling the salvaged material at the company's own lumber yard where they also work on the restoration of old boards and beams to remove the decaying parts from them. Re: Purpose Savannah keeps a proper record of all the historic buildings that were taken apart by them before shipping the materials off to their new homes.



 

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