Network Notes: All Aboard for Preservation Station

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All Aboard for Preservation Station

Preservation Station is an all-volunteer project sponsored by The Heritage Trust for Preservation and Restoration of Historic Burlington, Iowa, in conjunction with the Des Moines County Regional Solid Waste Commission (DMC Regional). Established to protect the area's architectural heritage and keep building materials out of landfills, the project provides reasonably priced period materials and items for the restoration, rehabilitation, and renovation of houses and other buildings. The money made from sales is reinvested in the community in the form of grants and loans to assist with building restoration.

Preservation Station's salvage activities by volunteers began in late October 2000. The initial volunteers were recruited by word of mouth, but generous press coverage helped spread the word. By April 2001, the Heritage Trust took on sponsorship of Preservation Station, lending its private not-for-profit 501(c)3 status to the project.

As a result, Preservation Station can provide tax receipts to those who donate materials, or let the group salvage or deconstruct their property. This tax incentive can be used to offset the added cost and delay of allowing salvage prior to demolition. In addition, the Heritage Trust provides basic liability insurance coverage to protect passers-by at deconstruction projects.

Preservation Station grossed about $15,000 in sales in its first year, and the Heritage Trust has enjoyed a 50 percent increase in memberships from volunteers and supporters of the project. All of the profits go to fund grants and loans to help restore historic buildings in Burlington.

Projects tackled to date have been in Burlington, Des Moines County, and Gladstone, Illinois. The roster of active volunteers reaches from Macomb, Illinois, to Ft. Madison and Danville, Iowa. Customers have come from as far as Texas, Tennessee, Colorado, and even California to buy the salvaged materials. Area businesses have helped out by loaning equipment and donating pallets and refreshments.

Preservation Station's success in pursuing dual goals of architectural preservation and waste reduction has received statewide recognition. In 2001, the Iowa Recycling Association presented Preservation Station with its Recycling Project of the Year Award. In 2002, Main Street Iowa presented Preservation Station with its Best Volunteer Development Program Award.