North Philly architectural salvage business helping preserve history by making old items new again

Tamala Edwards Image
Thursday, April 20, 2023
What's old is new again at North Philly architectural salvage business
North Philadelphia business Beaty American sells historic, reclaimed architectural items for your home.

NORTH PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Bob Beaty has spent much of his life working to reduce, reuse and recycle.

"I've always been about sustainability," he says.

In 2014, he started his current architectural salvage business called Beaty American.

"We go into buildings that are being demolished or renovated, older buildings, and then salvage, pull out items," he says.

Beaty says it's beneficial for business and for the planet since these reclaimed items "could probably have a new home instead of going into a dump."

He says he was about 18 when he first salvaged marble floor tiles from a site.

"They were demolishing the old Snellenberg's department store at 12th and Market," he says. "I was just amazed that everything was going into dumpsters. Nothing was being saved."

That stuck with him, and after serving in Vietnam and graduating from St. Joseph's University, he headed to Berkeley, California.

In 1975, Beaty says he joined a commune named Ohmega Salvage.

"I wanted to see how I could save the planet," he says of his work there.

He co-founded more salvage companies in California before heading back to Philadelphia. Beaty has collections of hardware that they've acquired on different projects, along with building joists and flooring.

"There's a good market for that type of material," he says.

There are reclaimed items for both homeowners and contractors. About a block away from his business is a lot with more reclaimed materials he calls "the yard."

"We kind of try to concentrate on lumber, iron and stone," he says.

Many items he saves are from historic mansions, factories and churches. Recently, he acquired some limestone carvings that came from a church in North Philadelphia, but over the years he's collected a treasure trove of artifacts.

"We have two bandsaws here. They were both made in Philadelphia," he says.

With each salvage, a little piece of history is also preserved, and that will continue through Beaty's venture called Philada.

"What we've been doing so far is making furniture," says Beaty.

And that furniture is made from reclaimed material. He already has a table built from timber that came from the roof of the Academy of Music.

He says this work is "very satisfying" and has been not only a passion, but a calling.

"What I'm going to do throughout the day is going to be beneficial, not only to the planet, but also to people that appreciate the materials," he says.

For more information:

Beaty American online

Beaty American on Instagram


Beaty American

1800 N. American Street

Unit G

Philadelphia, PA 19122