9 Incredible Restorations of Decaying Buildings and Shabby Things


Great buildings exist, but to keep them functional and looking good, they need to be well taken care of. They need to be maintained properly to get the best use out of the structure. The following are some examples of restorations of old buildings that turned out really well.

See videos at the end

Hotel Del Salto in Soacha, Cundinamarca, Colombia

Only twenty miles southwest of Bogota, Colombia, is the historic Hotel Del Salto or the Tequendama Falls Museum of Biodiversity, as it is now known.

The hotel was built in 1923 as a mansion for architect Carlos Arturo Tapias. In 1928, it was transformed into the elegant Hotel Del Salto. The hotel wanted to capitalize on the tourism to the Tequendama Falls, and it was a successful hotel for sixty years.

By the 1990s, the original building was too damaged to continue operating, and the establishment closed. For years, it lay abandoned with reports of the place being haunted.

In 2011, the place was given a new lease on life. The Ecological Farm Foundation of Porvenir and the National University of Colombia’s Institute of Natural Sciences partnered to restore the hotel. Their goal was to convert it into a museum that could serve as a national symbol of cultural heritage and environmental restoration. It has been opened to the public,but there are some lower floors that are not yet accessible. The restoration is ongoing, and it will cost more than US$2 million before it can be completed.

Château Gudanes, Château-Verdun, France

An Australian family wanted a French vacation home, so they purchased a rundown estate and proceeded to restore it. Karina and Craig Waters purchased the Château de Gudanes in southern France in 2013.

They began to restore the massive property, which was built in the mid-1700s and designed by the Parisian architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel. The 94-room chateau was in ruins when the family bought it. Many of the rooms lacked a ceiling or floor. The estate had never been equipped for heat or electricity.

Since their restoration began, they have found mysterious tunnels, ancient artifacts, and even a fresco painting under some old wallpaper. The family is planning to open the estate to the public with tours and a cafe. In 2017, they will be offering accommodation and function facilities. Check out their Instagram page to be updated with the restoration progress.

Grey Gardens in East Hampton, New York, USA

The Grey Gardens estate was restored by editor of the Washington Post, Ben Bradlee and his wife, Sally Quinn.

It was built in 1897, and Grey Gardens was made famous by a 1975 documentary of the same name that starred the owners at the time, Edith “Big Edie” Bouvier Beale and her daughter Edith “Little Edie” Bouvier Beale. The women were the aunt and first cousin of former US First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The two lived in isolation for several years. Their living situation was so bad that Jackie O made a visit to clean up the place and save them from eviction.

After Big Edie passed away, Bradlee purchased the house for US$220,000 and promised to restore the estate. Quinn recalled during a walkthrough in the early stages of the restoration that she touched a piano key  in the living room and it fell through the floor. There was waste from cats all over and the fixtures were rotten. Since the Grey Gardens restoration, it has been used as a summer home by the owners. It is also available as a rental property.

Highland Park Bowl, Los Angeles, California, USA

The Highland Park Bowl has been in Los Angeles since 1927. It has been restored beautifully and is now a hot spot for pizzas, cocktails, and bowling.

It is known as Mr. T’s Bowl. There are eight bowling lanes, two horseshoe-shaped bars, and an open air kitchen.

The 1933 Group restored the bowl. They wanted to preserve the original features like the wooden arches and eight lane bowling alley. They repurposed a lot of material from the site like old bowling pins turned into bar lamps.

Kings Theatre, Brooklyn, New York, USA

Opened in 1929, the Brooklyn Kings Theatre was designed in the style of the Palace of Versailles and Paris Opera House. It was originally painted with muted colors to look aged. The theater, which has 3,676 seats, has been restored with the help of Martinez+Johnson, EverGreene Architectural Arts, and ACE Theatrical Group.

It closed in 1977 when it failed to get enough customers to continue operating. The city took control of the building for its failure to pay back taxes. The theater then sat empty and was a place for pigeons and vandals. All the chandeliers were stolen. The roof had holes, so every time it rained, waterfalls rained down on the original plaster.

In 2013, reconstruction of the theater began. The new owners wanted to stick to the original details so much that they scraped through the layers of paint and did a forensic analysis of the paint samples to recreate the original colors of the building. The Kings also received an upgrade with wider seats and a better stage. Restrooms were added and more concession stands also.

Click nextpage for more photos