Female-Led Deconstruction Company Is Turning Historic Homes Into Heritage Building Materials

Katie Fitzhugh

In the city of Savannah, Georgia, there’s an amazing non-profit organization led by women wearing pink hard hats and high-visibility vests, and they have dedicated their time to deconstruction,  reuse and recycling.

In essence, deconstruction is the careful dismantling of structures where most of the components of the structure can and should still be repurposed. This type of work is normally done on heritage materials, such as wood that is still incredibly high-quality endangered wood, which would sadly get placed in landfills otherwise.

The name of the company is Re:Purpose Savannah, and it’s a 501(c)3 nonprofit that specializes in dissembling old, condemned buildings to salvage valuable materials like bricks, timber, door frames, metalwork, and various other components. These salvaged treasures are then sold to construction companies engaged in crafting new homes for discerning clients. Their portfolio includes the deconstruction of beach houses, diaries, bungalows, cottages, and traditional townhouses.

This endeavor is the classic example of circular economics, regardless of the fact that it demands 6 times more labor hours compared to a traditional home demolition. Moreover, it was actually during the COVID-19 pandemic that the true worth of this niche occupation became evident.

Executive Director for Re:purpose Savannah, Mae Bowley, explained in a mini-doc shot by the Christian Science Monitor, “When COVID happened the price of lumber skyrocketed, all our lumber was coming from elsewhere. My supply, which is local, didn’t dry up, I didn’t have to raise my prices a penny.”

In addition,  what makes their work even more remarkable is the source of the wood they recover. A lot of it comes from trees that are either no longer suitable for traditional lumber production because they are considered to have an endangered status, or there are better options available for mass timber planting.

These types of trees include white and red oak, hickory, longleaf pine, walnut and sweetgum. Longleaf pine, in particular, stands out as an exceptional wood because it boasts of tensile strength that rivals that of steel.


Re:purpose Savannah doesn’t just stop at deconstruction; they also have their own lumber yard. Here, the salvaged boards, beams, joints, and flooring undergo a gentle restoration process to remove decay or any signs of wear and tear which they also sell on their extensive website.

Every historic building they dismantle is meticulously documented, preserving as much of its context as possible. This rich history accompanies the materials and lumber as they find their way to new homes, ensuring that the legacy of Savannah’s architectural heritage lives on through repurposed treasures.

See more about what they do in the video below.


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