I don't believe anything I see on TV.
When it comes to reclamation, Thomas Filiaggi made me a believer.
I'd argue that there's nothing "real" about reality shows, and I've never fallen for a late-night infomercial (even in fits of insomnia when I'm most vulnerable). I'm always weary of fancy production, and I consistently roll my eyes when Hollywood A-listers tell daytime talk show hosts that they eat what they want and never work out. Oh, and don't even get me started on the weatherman. Where'd they find that guy, anyway?
Unfortunately, that same skepticism follows me to one of my biggest boob tube weaknesses - home improvement shows.
These days, reclaiming and reusing materials is all the rage. The other day, I saw a guy (who lives somewhere I can't even afford to vacation) rip out dashboard vinyl from cars in a junk yard and create the coolest outdoor flooring I've ever seen in my life. Once I got past the ohh-and-ahh factor of it all, I couldn't help but mentally tear the whole project down. Maybe it's because I'm the kind of person who still refers to screwdrivers as the "star one" and the "line one," but I just can't get my head around that stuff. Do normal people actually do that?
The answer is yes.
Check out that church.
Meet 25-year-old Thomas Filiaggi of Lynchburg, Virginia. A couple of years ago, he did exactly what many young people his age do; he graduated from college (he comes from a proud family of Virginia Tech Hokies) and took his hard-earned degree (he's a computer whiz kid) straight to an office job. Mission accomplished, or so he thought. Filiaggi's mindset started to change after several months behind the desk, and that entrepreneurial restlessness lead to an atypical side job - restoring a 19th century gothic church in downtown Lynchburg with his dad, Larry. Sound like anything you've ever seen on TV?
According to Filiaggi, this get-in-and-get-your-hands-dirty project opened his eyes to the world of architectural salvage. It also prompted him to do something many young people his age would never, ever consider.
"I decided to drop the office job to focus on my reclamation projects because, well, I was bored to death," Filiaggi said. "I was working in a stuffy office in a paper plant where there was no real personal satisfaction in the projects I was completing. At the end of the day, the end result was still paper production."
Fast forward to today, and you'll find Filiaggi (usually accompanied by his dad) scouring old barns, schools and factories for the interesting cast-aways that fuel his successful start-up furniture business, Loft3F. The father-son work on the church also continues, and the duo hopes to soon reintroduce the city of Lynchburg to the building as first-class event space.
"Old lumber has a patina that just cannot be replicated," Filiaggi said. "I do what I do because I love turning what most people would consider trash into something functional, visually appealing and unique."
Need to see it to believe it? Now you're sounding like me.
The antique heart pine ceiling for the loft at the church. This wood came out of an old high school in Pennsylvania.
A side table made out of steel, brass hardware and pine. The pine was the siding from an old tobacco barn.
Two ten-foot doors for the church made out of antique heart pine.
Reclaimed industrial pallet. The pallet is made out of steel and maple. It came out of a warehouse located in downtown Lynchburg, and was most likely used in the tobacco or shoe industry.
Interested in more fun green reads? Visit PreservationNation.org to see how the National Trust for Historic Preservation is celebrating Earth Day.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.
Jason Lloyd Clement is the director of community outreach at the National Trust, which is really just a fancy way of saying he’s a professional place lover. For him, any day that involves a bike, a camera, and a gritty historic neighborhood is basically the best day ever.