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Old building materials make up treasured parts of 1924 kitchen redo

It's hard not to feel that your old house renovation project has gone astray when you find yourself scuttling around inside a rain-soaked Dumpster.

And that's exactly where I was a few weeks back, sifting through tons of old plaster, brick and demolition debris after an essential piece of original bathroom plumbing from our 1924 house had been mistakenly tossed into the giant hopper.

I'd hoped to rescue a missing bathroom gas cock, too, but — like the indispensable drain — this small piece of period brass and steel used to fuel an antique heater had already been pilfered and likely sold for salvage. Not a single piece of metal remained to be found, in fact, and — despite fearing the worst halfway through the bin — I confirmed it by poking, prodding and turning the rubble over all the way down to the bottom.

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