About Great Lakes Yard
Located in Chicago, GREAT LAKES YARD is a reclaimed lumber and salvage business selling the highest quality heritage materials. All of our lumber has been sustainably harvested across the Great Lakes Region through deconstruction and demolition as an innovative model towards sustainable reuse.
Why It Matters
The Great Lakes region is a massive, invisible warehouse full of gorgeous materials. We mowed down our white pine and hemlock forests and built entire railroads to move our maple, birch, ash, basswood, and elm. This is what was used to build the industrial infrastructure of our region and what holds up the houses we live in. These forests were used to create the first permanent structures ever built on this land, and their bones are old and powerful and solid and beautiful.
The materials used to construct our towns tell both a human and environmental history––it’s written in the steam powered cuts in our lumber, the straight grain of trees that once competed for sunlight, the lumber stamps that can be traced back to the forests of Michigan and Wisconsin, the centuries-old sap that’s still thick in the center of a beam that was milled before automobiles existed.
At Great Lakes Yard, we’re essentially a natural history museum that sells lumber and relics. We’re a place for contractors, designers, builders, artists, architectural historians, and curious people. We work to connect people who need materials with those who are storing, deconstructing or milling them.
You can check out our inventory online, call us to talk about what you’re looking for, or make an appointment to see what’s currently in the warehouse––if we don’t have it now, we can often find what you’re looking for or design it ourselves. We buy lumber and salvaged goods, we sell lumber and salvaged goods, and we build permanent and temporary installations for a variety of clients and events.
About Meegan Czop, Founder
Meegan believes that everything we need already exists...you may just need to wait a day or two to get it. After completing her BFA in Painting from Western Michigan University, she worked in construction for a building restoration company, worked in high-end architectural salvage, restored historic masonry, and then built sets and created props for the Oprah Winfrey Show. While she loved the work, the wasteful nature of production and construction always bothered her. It seemed far more natural to look for ways to reuse and repurpose materials than to pitch them.She was born and raised in East Lansing, Michigan, and her deep respect for the Great Lakes region and its wealth of materials came from climbing through an endless series of abandoned buildings and demo sites.
In 2009, Meegan was hired as the Director of Business Development at Chicago’s Rebuilding Exchange, a position that allowed her to bring together her creative skill set and hands-on construction experience to help change the industry. Eventually, she started consulting for a local environmental organization and for various “rust belt” cities (a term she uses apprehensively but with great affection), essentially working to take a liability and turn it into an asset. After years of hauling lumber, connecting tradespeople to jobs, and learning everything she could about materials in the region, she decided to take things to another level and opened her own specialized warehouse in Chicago’s Garfield Park neighborhood. She drives an old truck that was manufactured in the town she grew up in, dreams of resurrecting dying trades, and strives to work in an environment where every single item, from the furniture to the tools to the paper clips, are from estate sales or bought used.