HABITAT Salvaging the Past

Some of the choicest bits of Dallas history are silently biding their time in an orphanage of sorts near the Corinth Street bridge over the Trinity River. Brothers Jack (far left) and Red [near left) Orr, the two nicest junkmen anybody ever met, have been tearing apart homes and other buildings since 1945 and reselling the salvaged treasures at their Orr-Reed Wrecking company. They’ll sell you a glass brick for S5, a strip of 100-year-old Victorian porch trim for S20 or a vintage upright piano for $100.

But wait, there’s more. “Tell me what you’ve got,” requests a typical caller. “We’ve got so much, you better just come look for yourself,” is the typical reply. And you should: mantels, French doors, stained glass, pedestal lavatories, claw-footed bathtubs, hand-formed bricks and lighting fixtures-Jack and Red deal in just about anything that the four winds and fate send their way. They’ve got everything but a junkyard dog.

Now an era may be ending. Today’s other wreckers outbid the Orrs by reducing everything to rubble and carting it all off to the dump. Besides, Red, an 80-year-old imp, and the more taciturn Jack, 75, want to retire. They’ve got many dump trucks worth of happy memories, particularly from the company’s heyday in the ’50s and ’60s. Now they’re ready to add a “For Sale” sign to their business. Fix-er-uppers, theatrical scenery designers, collectors and all the rest of us will sorely miss the two. 1903 Rock Island St. 428-7429.

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