RENSSELAER FALLS When Kyle D. Fireball Hartman bought an abandoned house 38 years ago with his wife, Sally W., the couple never imagined theyd be starting a building complex thats now chock-full of vintage wooden doors, shutters, windows, photographs, doorknobs and other treasures.
Hundreds of people from all parts of the globe have visited the three buildings at 208-317 Front St. The complex is dubbed Kyles World because the buildings are filled with a myriad of items collected over the past four decades.
Everything I have is original stuff that has character, Mr. Hartman said. When I see a painted door, I picture whats under it.
He jokes that he was an American Picker long before the TV show with that name debuted on the History Channel. The program follows expert anitquers as they scour junkyards, basements and barns for hidden gems.
For the right price, most of the items are for sale. Visitors are welcome by chance or appointment, and Mr. Hartman, 64, is always eager to provide guided tours of his memorabilia. He easily rattles off details about local architecture and historic buildings.
A stop at Kyles World is like visiting a museum, art studio and historic landmark all at once. It can be a little overwhelming at first, but delightfully interesting for those who appreciate vintage items with old-time character and workmanship.
Theres the three-story River House at 317 Front St. where the Hartmans have lived since 1975. An adjacent building was the former Morrison Mill that now houses Ladies First Gallery, where Mrs. Hartman exhibits and sells her pottery, paintings and other artwork.
Besides the art gallery, the spacious building is where Mr. Hartman displays hundreds of reprinted photographs, copies of local newspaper articles, vintage advertisements and more depicting Rensselaer Falls and surrounding areas.
The last building is a restored replica of a train station, representing a time when eight trains a day passed through Rensselaer Falls. Its now filled with 1,900 vintage doors, dozens of classic cars and other salvaged items.
The art gallery, 208 Front St., is hosting an open house and sale from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Some guest artists will display their wares, and refreshments will be provided.
Mrs. Hartman shares her husbands interest in documenting history as it unfolds, although she gives her partner most of the credit for their collections.
Kyle has an eye for things. Its a gift, Mrs. Hartman said. He has a passion for life.
Most of his items were purchased at auctions or from salvage companies. He found some directly at construction sites.
Besides collecting vintage items, Mr. Hartman spent many years restoring old doors, windows or woodwork for individual homes and businesses including Maxfields and Mama Lucia restaurants in downtown Potsdam.
He also provided restored doors now used in the Blackbird Cafe, Canton. The Hartmans can be reached at 344-8882 or 344-7247.