The story of Rustbelt Reclamation echoes that of the region for which it is named. Stretching from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Duluth, Minnesota, the “Rustbelt” – previously known as the “Steel-Belt” – was once the cradle of America’s industrial might. Close in proximity to important waterways and rich with natural resources such as iron ore and coal, this vast region of America’s mid-west progenerated unprecedented innovation and growth which in turn, propelled our nation’s ascension to a position of global economic leadership. Through the middle course of the 19th century and well into the 20th, the “Steel-Belt” thrived, offering tremendous opportunity for the multitudes of people who emigrated to the area. Said prosperity gave rise to bustling urban centers across the region; great cities such as Chicago, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Cleveland emerged and grew into rich cultural centers.
As the 20th century progressed globalization and foreign competition eroded the region’s manufacturing base. The solubility of heavy industrial companies, once the backbone of the “Steel-Belt”, steadily dissolved away. Jobs became scarce and as such, large portions of the population were forced to move out of the region. Many urban centers lost well-over 50% of their residents. This shift left a superabundance of structures – industrial, residential and agricultural –empty and uncared for. As time slipped by, many of these architectural relics served as little more than evidence of a bygone era. The once proud “Steel-Belt” became the “Rust-Belt”.
In recent years, cities across the “Rustbelt” have experienced a renaissance of sorts. Focusing on new industries and capturing new markets, great strides have been made in returning the region to its former glory. Unfortunately, the remnant structures from yesteryear often times stand in the path of the “right-sizing” of these great cities. While removal and disposal of these structures can be an extensive and expensive endeavor, governmental, private, and non-profit entities are spearheading the cause. As a partner with all, Rustbelt Reclamation creates value by harvesting and repurposing lumber from these structures prior to their demolition thereby reducing both the cost of disposal and, perhaps more importantly, the amount of refuse bound for local landfills.
What is more, the old adage, “They don’t build ‘em like they used to” is absolutely true. Simply stated, the lumber stock Rustbelt Reclamation harvests from these structures is both old growth and has cured for over 100 years. Meaning the wood tends to be denser with spectacular figuring and is more stable when compared to virgin lumber of the same species. These qualities allow us to make a product that is both beautiful and long lasting.
Our vision is as ambitious as it is unique. Rustbelt Reclamation combines the ethos and attention to detail found in small artisan workshops with a scalable manufacturing model. We endeavor to create the highest quality product at the most competitive price possible. Additionally, we believe our product should be as sustainable as humanly possible; that’s why all offerings from Rustbelt Reclamation are crafted entirely within the United States utilizing locally salvaged materials. Equally important, we believe products should be built to last, not to be thrown away. We pride ourselves on building heirloom-quality products that are designed and built to endure for generations, just as the materials we use have endured for generations.
In order for the Rustbelt to experience a true revival, it must first reinvent itself. In so doing, we choose to accept the sardonic label of “Rustbelt” and wear it as a badge of honor, as we quite literally draw on our past to build anew. Utilizing our uniquely available material, superior craftsmanship and innovative design, Rustbelt Reclamation endeavors to capitalize on the past success of the region to fuel its resurgence. Our products and their story, like our region, are all about reinvention.
THE STORY OF RUSTBELT RECLAMATION from Rustbelt Reclamation on Vimeo.