Madison Street Salvage

Preserving Our Past for the Future

The 2008 flood became a source of many objects now being used to renovate the downtown.

From bad circumstances, good often emerges. When 2008’s massive flood ravished Johnson County, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommended demolition for a few homes in Franklin. The flood provided a unique opportunity to salvage historic doors, windows and mantels, which would later become Madison Street Salvage, an affiliate of Franklin Heritage, Inc. (FHI), a 501(c)(3) historic preservation nonprofit.

Coincidentally during the summer of 2008, a Whiteland High School graduate, studying at Ball State University’s College of Architecture and Planning, interned with FHI. Working closely with Rob Shilts, FHI’s Executive Director, Danny Causey learned how vital preservation is to capturing history, one of his favorite subjects.

Five years later in 2013, Shilts hired Causey as FHI’s Director of Architectural Salvage. Sales from Madison Street Salvage aid the financing of FHI operation and the restoration of the Historic Artcraft Theatre at 57 N. Main St. in Franklin. “Originally, I thought I’d be an architect, but because I’m more of a big picture person, I chose urban planning and development,” said Causey.

From Storage to Marketplace

Causey’s first action was to organize the warehouse on Hamilton Avenue that the Franklin Street Department loaned to store the flood’s salvage. Causey created a mini-shop, which opened September 21, 2013, with business hours only on Saturdays, 10-2 p.m. The income soon grew from hundreds of dollars a month to thousands. According to Causey, the key for its growth was posting items on Facebook and being organized. “The city was kind enough to let us use their warehouse as a makeshift shop.”

As 2014 began, FHI began looking for a permanent location for its salvage shop. The 1918 building that once housed Holbrook Manufacturing, which had moved to its current 291 Province St. address, became available. This historic building first housed McCarty’s Bakery and Tony’s Delicatessen and Market until purchased by Holbrook, Mfg. in the 1950s. Its address is 350 E. Madison St.

Purchased by FHI in late 2014, the building needed renovation. Dirt floors and no air conditioning, heat or restrooms, along with the need for new wiring and plumbing, required a $250,000 makeover. Due to the community’s generosity and Franklin Development’s Corporation’s $50,000 grant, “we were able to plan this from start to finish and complete this project in record time,” said Causey.

To keep costs down, local organizations such as the Juvenile Detention Center supplied manpower to build all the display tables currently used. Contractors completed the new exterior designed by Causey. Volunteers renovated most of the interior. Recently, students from Atterbury Job Corps, the nation’s largest residential education and vocational training program for economically disadvantaged youth, paved an extended parking lot.

Madison Street Salvage (MSS) opened September 19, 2015, with its current weekly hours, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Before 2017 ends, it will be open additional days.

Salvage Enthusiasts

“Restoration First, Salvage Second” is the shop’s official creed with 100 percent of its profits going to restoration, designated primarily for the Historic Artcraft Theatre. As MSS’s only paid staff, Causey is quick to appreciate his 15 regular volunteers.

Dennis Norman, their on-site master woodworker, has another volunteer, Steve Hivnor, apprenticing. “Since 2008, I’ve done a lot of volunteer work for the Artcraft, so when I sold my house across from Center Grove High School, it was logical to move my workshop to the shop. I retired in November from Dreyer and Reinbold, so now I can spend more time here,” said Norman, who is currently restoring a rare watchmaker’s bench complete with a lathe.

Marty Williams, past FHI Board President, enjoys collecting materials at various sites. This winter, he helped salvage a Center Grove barn donated by the Swartz family. Williams also volunteers at the shop when it’s open. “I enjoy salvaging, restoring and building. Most recently, a bunch of us made the portable stairs for the Artcraft’s new stage,” said Williams. At the shop, he organizes, loads and helps with the “Wish List” – items that customers seek, such as wrought iron, old school desks, barn beams and split rail fences.

Madison Street Salvage offers practical and decorative treasures for their customers. Tom Youngman buys pallets to make coffee tables for friends and family while Center Grove resident Janet Hommel Mangas enjoys browsing.

“I love the ‘seek and find’ challenge of shopping here – of seeing an item and envisioning what I can upcycle it into. I appreciate that their profits go to serve the Franklin Heritage Inc. – back to the Artcraft, the greatest theater in Indiana. Having attended two classes, the harvest table and window box end table, Danny Causey and his team of expert volunteers were a joy to work with. It was actually like a ‘build-it’ party,” said Mangas.

Posting photos of new items on Facebook continues to help sales. “In just three hours on Friday, February 17, we raised over $1,000 for the Artcraft. Customers, waiting at the door at 10 a.m., purchased a map cabinet, a barrister bookcase, a set of cast iron pans and a large metal table. Reflecting on the shop’s community impact, Causey smiles and says, “It’s an incredible place, and we’ve made lots of friends from this business.”

Writer / Joyce Long

Photographer / Ron Stiemert