One such rescuer is Demolition Depot’s owner, Evan Blum. He recently helped me pick out a sturdy section of cornice to serve as the basis for a garden tool rack I wanted to build for a green-thumbed friend (see how, right). The piece was 19 inches long, with an egg-and-dart pattern. The price: $75. I needed only one for the project, but I was tempted to ask Evan whether he’d cut me a deal if I bought the dozen or so matching sections. Sunk in a shallow trench, they would have made ideal pathway edging.

Of course, there are lots of great ways to incorporate facade fragments inside the house, too. I would have loved to buy a terra-cotta panel of an owl perched on a book, which used to hang above the entrance to an elementary school in the Bronx. At $2,500 it was pricier than my whole trip to Rome, but it would have looked great on the wall above my desk. My mom—a woman of more means than I but from whom I inherited my junker gene—did something similar with a pair of Art Nouveau pilasters that she hung in niches flanking either side of her bed.

I could think of a stylish reuse project for almost everything I saw. Four vase-shaped limestone balusters ($100 apiece) could be legs for a glass-top coffee table. A single scrolling keystone could be reinstalled over a front door or, for something different, mounted like a shelf on the wall.

Then there was the pair of 18th-century Istrian marble column capitals from an estate in Rye Brook, New York. Decorated with Corinthian-style acanthus leaves, they reminded me of the fragments I saw at the Forum. And man, they would have made some pretty regal stools on which to sit and survey my not so ancient but no less beloved Washington Heights landscape.

Tip: To clean stone or terra-cotta ornaments, use mild dish soap and water. Small chunks of mortar can be gently tapped off using a hammer and chisel.
Ask TOH users about Salvage

Contribute to This Story Below