Lunchtime Tourist

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February 23, 2004 // UPDATED 9:19 am - April 25, 2007
By: Linda Koutsky
Linda Koutsky

City Salvage

505 1st Ave. NE

Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.;

Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sunday 2-5 p.m.

Ever wonder where beautifully carved wood staircases and ornate bronze light fixtures go when an old building's torn down? What about all those relics of a shifting congregation -- church pews, statuary and stained-glass windows?

It turns out the Twin Cities is an architectural salvage hotbed. Crews with crowbars and heavy machinery buy salvage rights to buildings slated for demolition and literally tear the places apart. Piece by piece they dismantle anything reusable in a home, restaurant or office space.

From a shop like City Salvage, you can bring home bits of local and regional architectural icons: an intricately carved granite column from the First Bank of Ada, Minn.; the bronze revolving door from the Physicians and Surgeons Building formerly on Target's site, 900 Nicollet Mall ($2,500); the art deco bar from Downtown's classic Charlie's Cafe Exceptionale (where the Helmut John building is now, 701 4th Ave. S.) and plenty of mission-style light fixtures from mansions, centers of commerce, etc.

However, not everything in the store is so grandiose. Other rescued architectural artifacts include fireplace mantels, plumbing fixtures, ironwork, lots of door knobs, carved wood doors, chandeliers and wall sconces. If you need a little color in your living room, City Salvage has the largest selection of American stained-glass windows in this part of the country. They also offer architectural design services and will help install your new treasure.

City Salvage also liberally sprinkles vintage trophies, old signs and paint-by-numbers throughout their three levels.

Going for that funky retro look? Here's your chance to take home a beauty shop chair with built-in hair dryer, a gold vinyl 1930s theater lobby bench, a 1940s cigarette or candy machine, or the now- classic Formette belt massager probably guaranteed to jiggle the fat away.

There's something for every wallet, prices range from $1 (vintage Christmas ornaments) to the five figures.

LUNCH TIP: Aromas of hearty soups fill the peaceful environment at Panera Bread, 233 Hennepin Ave. E.

Send your tips to thelunchtimetourist@hotmail.com.