Brick by Brick, Baltimore’s Blighted Houses Get a New Life

BALTIMORE—Five decrepit row houses that have stood for more than a century in West Baltimore will soon be gone—but not quite forgotten.

As part of the city’s effort to fight blight, it is paying a nonprofit that deconstructs buildings in some neighborhoods and then salvages and ships old bricks and lumber across the U.S. and to the Caribbean. Instead of ending up in landfills or being pulverized, the materials become floors in a Southampton, N.Y., pool house, walls in high-end Washington, D.C., condos and the ceiling of an outdoor-recreation store in Philadelphia.

Baltimore’s program is being trumpeted as a model and officials from other cities have come to look at how it works.

On a recent morning, workers in hard hats carried pine floorboards out from what was once a living room. Others wielded electric saws to dislodge thick joists that supported the weight of generations before the two-story brick house with arched windows and a decorative cornice slipped into ruin.

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Brick by Brick, Baltimore’s Blighted Houses Get a New Life; by Scott Calvert; THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

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