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Audubon 'harvest'

A volunteer with Habitat ReStore removes oak trim from Rock Island's Audubon School. The nonprofit business was given permission to salvage materials from the school before it was torn down.

Davenport's Habitat ReStore is still selling material it salvaged from Rock Island's soon-to-be-demolished Audubon School, but it has netted at least $16,822 so far, director Cindy Kuhn said Friday.

Employees and staff put in some "exhausting hours" to strip as much as possible from the former elementary school in a six-day window before asbestos abatement began Nov. 7, she said.

They loaded (and unloaded) the store's 16-foot-long truck five times.

More than half of the nicest doors have been sold, with several purchased by a contractor who said he intends to use them in a building he is redoing in downtown Davenport, Kuhn said.

But many others remain since every classroom had eight five-panel closet doors made of oak. Also available are two archways from the auditorium, lots of oak trim, two stage doors, handrails and about half the chalkboards.

ReStore staff also was careful to salvage small items such as keys, ceramic tiles from murals and coat hooks so that anyone interested could have a remembrance.

"People who have come in have lots of emotions attached to the school and, for the most part, they are very happy to have a piece or two to remember it," said Diane Schreiner, ReStore's customer service manager.

Five years ago, ReStore sold items salvaged from the Villa de Chantal, a former private school/convent in Rock Island, and "those things were popular, but nothing like this," Kuhn said of the Audubon materials.

Likely accounting for their popularity is that Audubon was a public school with more students and the fact it was used until 2010, whereas the Villa had been closed for many years, she said.

One particularly poignant moment occurred one recent evening when a group of women was touring ReStore and one of them spotted a ceramic tile with the signature of the late Don Goodwin, who had been the principal at Audubon before retiring in the mid-1980s.

The woman is a friend of Goodwin's widow, Gretchen, so she called her and the tile was set aside. When Goodwin came in to buy it, she also received two keys marked "principal's office."

"It's karma," Goodwin said. "It's like I was supposed to have them."

The Rock Island-Milan School Board voted Oct. 22 to tear down the vacant school at 2601 18th Ave. Asbestos removal will take at least another week, district spokesperson Holly Sparkman said.

When demolition occurs, the district intends to remove and set aside bricks for people to take as free remembrances, she added.

Habitat ReStore, 3629 Mississippi Ave., is a nonprofit organization that sells new or gently used building materials, with proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity Quad-Cities, a housing organization.

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