Deconstructing a legacy
Recycled church materials in Waupaca for sale
By Robert Cloud
When Todd Jones explains he is “deconstructing” the old St. Mary Magdalene’s Catholic Church building in downtown Waupaca, he differentiates this from “demolishing” the building.
“Recycle, reuse and repurpose. That’s our job,” Jones said. “Demolition is where they bring in a wrecking ball, knock it down and put it in a landfill.”
According to a report by the Environmental Protection Agency, construction and demolition generates more than 600 tons of waste debris annually, more than twice the amount collected from homes and businesses in cities.
Jones noted that demolition accounts for 25% of total waste going into landfills.
His Waupaca company, Loot Vintage and Supply, works with several other companies to recycle materials from deconstructed buildings.
Re•volvs, which is located at the old county highway facility at 600 E. Fulton St., prepares and sells the materials that are salvaged from the buildings.
Jones said Re•volvs plans to hold a public auction of items from the church in early July.
“We plan to keep as many of the architectural salvage items as local as possible,” Jones said.
Crews from Recyclean Inc., based in Kenosha, tear down the building and recycle the materials such as fixtures, bricks, doors, windows, wood flooring and other materials that can be resold.
Urban Evolutions is an Appleton company that works with architects and interior designers to provide wood flooring, slatted walls, doors and other items made from recycled lumber.
“We’re all passionate about saving history,” Jones said. “We’re favorably impacting the environment and keeping these valuable assets out of a landfill.”
The companies’ deconstruction and recycling efforts will be based in Waupaca, but they have begun expanding into Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Texas.
“The church is a beautiful structure,” Jones said, noting that it was built in 1932.
Designed by the architectural firm of Foeller, Schober and Berners, the church was a Neo-Gothic Revival style building that had a main block with a steeply-pitched gable roof and an attached square tower. It was brick with a brown and tan stone veneer.
After the parish outgrew the site on Division Street, St. Mary Magdalene’s dedicated a new church on Shadow Road in May 2003.
The old building has been vacant ever since.
“There is a lot of history here, folks who have been baptized here or married here,” Jones said. “We’re all sad to see it go,”