Huntsville’s Old Harrison Brothers Hardware Store — Dusty Wood into Vintage Treasures

The other day, I posted Huntsville’s Old Harrison Brothers Hardware Store — Part I.

Here’s the second part of the story, where I turn dusty wood into vintage treasures!


The Project

I first brought all those wooden treasures home in the back of my car. It drove me nuts, because they bumped and jangled all the way home. (Because bumping and jangling stuff in my car drives me nuts.)

I didn’t stop to shift the wood because I was too excited to slow down, visions of my Flea Market Flip-esque project dancing in my head.

Once at home, I dragged Lefty (my left-handed, left-brained husband) and Princess Buttercup (my adorable daughter) out of the house to see what I’d bought.

They were over-the-top excited for me.

I made that last sentence up.



Cleaning up the Wood

My first step was to sand the dusty wood. Sanding went a long way in cleaning up that wood.

I pulled out rusty nails with Lefty’s hammer, nicking my left palm in the process.

(Stay tuned for my Lock-jaw post to be posted in a week or two!!!)

Next, I went to the store and buy wood cleaner. Except, I couldn’t remember what the stuff was called.

“May I help you, Ma’me?” asked a man at a computer.

“Yes, I would like wood cleaner. I know what it looks like, but I don’t know what it is called.”

Interesting wooden drawer, now cleaned up.

The man typed in “wood cleaner.” His two colleagues were punching each other behind his back. I wanted to say, “Hey, boys! Knock it off! I’ve got an amazing DIY project on the line, here!” But I maintained my southern manners and bit my tongue.

“Do you mean,like, hardwood floor cleaner?”

“No. Nevermind. Thanks anyway.”

I’d seen that stuff before. I’d used that stuff before. As much as I hate hunting for stuff, especially in one of those big warehouse stores, I decided to search on my own.

I finally found it! Murphy’s Oil Soap!

Back to the house I went, purchase in hand.

Anyhow, after the wood dried, I tried to paint it with acrylic paint.

No good. It looked like a Kindergartener’s work.

Wood Painting Class at University Pickers.

But here’s the good news…Today I signed up for a sign painting class at University Pickers! I’m well on my way to creating beautiful home decor with sweet quotes and Bible verses for Sweetgum House!
More to come on how I turn dusty wood into vintage treasures from Huntsville’s Old Harrison Brothers Hardware Store…

This is what I want my sweet home decor signs to look like.  I got it at Mill Clothing Company.

More Home Decor Ideas.

I got a lot of terrific suggestions about how to turn my dusty wood into vintage treasures.  What do you think so far?

Dusty wood crate into wall art.  I haven’t hung it yet.  I’ll have to get Lefty to put it up for me if I can figure out the best place to hang it.  Or I may turn it into a coffee table.

Dusty wood crate into fire wood box. I got all the firewood from the forest at Sweetgum House.

Down the Architectural Rabbit Hole.


Old Singer Sewing Machine.

Every first and third Saturday of the month, architectural treasure hunters can make their way down the creaky steps to the Harrison Brothers basement. There you’ll find all types of goodies to upcycle into art projects and home decor.


I went last Saturday and found some old wood that I’m going to glue together to make a wall-hanging. (More of that on Friday’s post!)

Harrison Brothers is located on the courthouse square in downtown Huntsville, Alabama.

I’ve posted before about how you can find gifts made from local and regional artists.


Harrison Brothers window display: You can also buy old-looking new stuff.

But bar-none, my favorite thing about the place is walking to the back of the store and down the steps to find what they’ve scavenged from old houses in the area. The place is run by the Historic Huntsville Foundation and opened from 10 a.m.- Noon. According to an article by, procedes from the sales go to education and preservation.


“Secret” doorway to the basement. Feels like you’re about to enter a speak-easy!


Down the rabbit hole!

I’d love to hear about similar, quirky places where you live? Got any to share?


Old watering can, covered in plaster and paint.

Architectural Goodies at Harrison Brothers

Harrison Brothers' display window.

Harrison Brothers’ display window.

So before the St. Patrick’s Day parade on Saturday, Princess Buttercup and I were in the bowels of Harrison Brothers, digging through warped cardboard boxes to find the perfect old doorknobs to re-purpose as curtain finials.

Harrison Brothers is a treasure trove for customers who are looking to find cool (usually locally-made) gifts such as gourmet food items, pottery and jewelry, garden novelties, cast iron cookware, old-fashioned candies—like horehound candy—and more.

Door to Harrison Brothers.

Door to Harrison Brothers.

According to their website, Harrison Brothers is the “oldest operating hardware store in Alabama.” The original store was founded in 1879 and later re-opened by the Historic Huntsville Foundation. Since 1984, Harrison Brothers has been staffed with volunteer clerks.

The store is at a lovely location on South Side Square in Huntsville, Alabama.

Buttercup bought a handful of colorful marbles for 10 cents each as a reward for patiently going with me down into the basement.

Now, the basement…

…that’s the reason I wanted to go to Harrison Brothers last Saturday.

Down the rabbit hole.  The wooden stairwell.

Down the rabbit hole. The wooden stairwell.

Every first and third Saturday (or by appointment), from 10 a.m. to noon, the historical society opens the basement to the public.

You walk to the back of the store and go down the narrow, wooden staircase. There, amidst the dust, is a huge underground warehouse that’s full of architectural stuff like old doors, glass tiles, old wooden boxes, old wood, shutters, etc.

The proceeds go to the historical foundation.

The foundation is also taking donations, so please let them know if you see a house about to be demolished.

Harrison Brothers
124 South Side Square
Huntsville, AL 35801

(256) 536-3631
866-533-3631 (toll free)

P.S.: I got two big burlap bags for under $3/each! I found two other little fabric bags for cheap, too!

The marble bin.

The marble bin.

Cute stuff for sale!

Cute stuff for sale!

South Side Square.

South Side Square.

Foundation stones in the basement.

Foundation stones in the basement.

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Go to Southern Accents for Awesome Architectural Treasures!

Southern Accent  308 2nd Avenue SE Cullman, Alabama.

Southern Accent
308 2nd Avenue SE
Cullman, Alabama.

On Saturday, I took a road trip to Cullman, Alabama so that I could go visit a well-known store there called “Southern Accents.” (Be sure to check them out!

Cullman is considered to be a small town, but not in my book. I mean, if Jachin is regarded as an unincorporated community, and Butler only has about 2,000 people who live there, I call Cullman a metro, in comparison! It has a Wal-mart and a McDonalds. Those franchises are the standard for what I call “big.”

Back to Southern Accents. I’m not really sure that it should be called “a store.” It is actually this huge ware-house. A treasure trove for those who like to dig through old architectural pieces. There are tons of old doors that you can use for doors or to up-cycle as primitive tables. And they are so nice and helpful…even if you’re only planning to buy something small like these beautiful tiles that came from a huge home in Arkansas.

Just wait 'til you see what I do with these!

Just wait ’til you see what I do with these!

I met the nicest couple who found a beautiful old mantle to put in their new house that they are building. There are a bunch of old mantles, but this one looked ready for installation. Its wood was shiny, and it looked like it wouldn’t have to be stripped or sanded.
I saw old wooden planks that could be used on your walls or floors. They could also be used as wall art, tables, or anything else that you can think of. I may have to go back there soon to pick up some of that! My fellow-bloggers, the Palmers—from another town in rural south Alabama, once re-did a whole wall with up-cycled wood from Southern Accents. You can see the amazing results at I love their site!

Planks galore...limitless possibilities!

Planks galore…limitless possibilities!

I’m running out of time before I have to post and then go pick up Princess Buttercup from school, so I’ll try to post more on another day. I may have to post every day this week with all of the things that I found in Cullman. It is a really neat little town with lots of cool boutiques and artsy stores. I went for Southern Accents, and found so much more!

Courtyard leads to another warehouse that's packed with stuff.

Courtyard leads to another warehouse that’s packed with stuff.

Dirt bike.  Pun intended.

Dirt bike. Pun intended.

Cedar door with a history.

Cedar door with history.

Personal doorknob collection.  Not on sale, but on display.

Personal doorknob collection. Not on sale, but on display.

Brass door knobs by the hundreds.

Brass door knobs by the hundreds.

I totally want this!

I totally want this!