Refrindings helps save items that might otherwise be lost to
landfills, while helping to preserve York’s architectural heritage.
Since 1975, this private non-profit organization has assisted in the
rehabilitation of over 75 buildings, either by purchasing them,
restoring and reselling them, or by providing a small grant in exchange
for an easement that ensures that a particular building will be
It all began with the saving
of The Billmeyer
House, an Italianate structure, from demolition. "A group of
citizens formed and raised $250,000 to buy and restore the
building," said Higgins. "In the end, the owner decided to
keep the building and reuse it and HYI turned its attentions to other
But just like all good things, the
Refindings got its start as a grassroots movement of the Historic York,
Inc. A number of its board members kept noticing the loss of architectural
items to the burn pile or trash, so they began to collect these items and
store them in friends’ barns. When too many
things had accumulated, we began to list items for sale in our
series of arson fires in area barns in the 1980s resulted in the loss of a great
number of items in two of the barns. In 1985, HYI opened the
Architectural Warehouse in its first location in a warehouse behind an
area art gallery. Staffed on Saturdays by volunteers and during the week
by gallery staff, it outgrew the space in six months and by the spring
of 1987, moved once again. In 2010, Historic York, Inc. sold the
Warehouse business to Refindings.
HYI has lead the battle for historic
preservation movement in York County. It was the first to open a salvage
warehouse and produce a resource directory of contractors and architects
that specialize in older buildings. Higgins said that before HYI opened
its warehouse, she visited similar businesses in New York and Vermont.
Besides raising money for HYI operating
expenses, the Architectural Warehouse sought to provide a place to
recycle architectural building pieces to assist the owners of historic
houses in finding unique and hard to replace items for their projects.
Many people building new homes incorporate these
items into their design.
The original Architectural Warehouse acquired its
inventory through consignments, donations, and the HYI’s own salvage
efforts. Here, customers can find anything from old interior
and exterior doors, shutters, windows, mantels of all sizes, hardware of
all kinds, advertising signs, even theater seats. Plus, the place is
packed to the rafters with pediments, doors, transoms, grates,
chandeliers, and stained glass windows. These items provide an
alternative to costly reproductions.
One of the most popular items is
individual letters from a theater marquee. And then there are all the
furnishings of a 1950s beauty salon. If it’s in or part of an old
building somewhere in York, HYI eventually got it.
Refindings customers include
decorators, preservationists, architects, renovators and even filmmakers
from Hollywood. The most recent movie to use items from the
Architectural Warehouse was Disney’s "Tuck Everlasting,"
filmed in Maryland. The producers were searching
for items to recreate a c.1900 farm house and used quite a number of HYI’s
HYI listed more than 30 buildings on
the National Register of Historic Places and 15 districts (about 20,000
buildings total) on the National Register of Historic Places. The group
has also inventoried 45,000 historic buildings in York
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