The following interview was conducted recently between John R. Longanecker, owner of Centre Mills Antique Floors in Aspers, Pa., and the "Detroit Hungarian Conservative Press."

REPORTER: Why did you contact us and request an interview?
LONGANECKER: On 3 Nov 13 it was officially proclaimed that there are 150,000 empty parcels of land and over 70,000 unused, uninhabited buildings within the 139 sq. miles which make up Detroit, Michigan. Overall, one third (1/3) of all properties in this city are tax delinquent; Detroit used to be the Paris of the Midwest. Detroit has filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. In the post-Industrial Age, this crumbling city, once the preeminent auto-making giant, does not need the failed assistance of government, which was the cause for this decline in the first place, but it needs the help of a 'combine' of creative, successful entrepreneurs.

REPORTER: As an outsider, directing your vision into Detroit, how did your motivation originate to attempt to fix Detroit?
LONGANECKER: The self-imposed idea is to develop a viable, creatively strategic game-plan that would make realistic a non-governmental solution of converting this 'brickbat' of a city into a rose-filled bouquet. Saving buildings that have real potential for rehab in the future and turning over decadent ugliness to the grasp of the wrecking ball is part of this projected plan. But who pays if not the taxpayer who shoulders the burden of feeding government?

REPORTER: You seem to have an large concern with a bulging, out of control government. State your case.
LONGANECKER: Keep government, except for the entities that now either own or control Detroit's foreclosed buildings and properties, out of the picture. Maybe the National Guard in the future would have to be called but this would be done reluctantly and only if needed. Government should heed the warning: please stay at home/ Work hard to make Detroit the envy of other cities with the money source coming from private entrepreneurs and make Detroit a replica on how to make this deplorable city a future model for other cities to follow.

REPORTER: Place your participants on the stage if they are not government officials and clarify their roles and what has to be done.
LONGANECKER: Gates, Buffet, Trump and about 100 qualified, firmly screened Mennonite and Amish teams, each team involving about 10-15 men (not women) who have bldg. material salvage experience are in the theater. The Amish and Mennonites would be paid to salvage (the result of negotiation) and to take home architectural and structural elements from all of these 70,000 plus buildings within the 139 sq. miles that encompasses Detroit. These two sects would be asked to work between their planting and harvesting seasons, namely from mid-October to mid-March. This is also subject to negotiation. Wages and shelter would be provided for the Mennonite-Amish teams by the Combine in exchange for immediate ownership of all of this land, but only that land that is foreclosed, tax-delinquent and condemned. The Combine would be exempt from all back property taxes, liens and huge water bills created by pipe breaks caused by illegal metal salvagers. Those paying their tax obligation on their properties obviously keep their properties.

REPORTER: Will you please specify the terms that must be played out between and among your players and, although precedent is a dangerous word, has a similar procedure ever been adopted before here in the states?
LONGANECKER: (1) Convince the entities that control the foreclosed properties of Detroit to mix with Gates, Buffet & Trump (now a combine) and to offer all of the 70,000 plus 'unsightful' properties to these 3 for a penny per property. For a total of $70.00 these 3 would get them all and they would also get the 150,000 vacant parcels for a total of $150.00. Together this team of 3 would obtain 220,000 properties for a grand total of $220.00. There is no catch here. Taxes on these re-possessed properties would not begin until a designated time would be worked out. All back taxes and liens would be permanently scraped and thrown into the waste can for the Combine. Life begins anew in Detroit, Michigan. Entrepreneurs coming to the rescue is not new in U.S. History; what J.P. Morgan accomplished countless times for the US. Government is most exemplary and in particular that which Morgan fixed under Pres. Cleveland regarding the gold and silver crisis in the early to mid 1890's. At one time, it is written, that J.P. Morgan had gained more wealth than the total value placed on all the land and all of that land's contents west of the Mississippi River.
(2) With regard to the salvage, cleaning, re-stacking on skids and the banding of used bricks it is highly suggested that reliable prisoners would be offered this opportunity; this would be a chance for prisoners to get their hands sore and to realize that those 'skin-cracks' in their hands painfully are a reminder of the harsh realities of life. Gloves are not that expensive. Work gloves made in China last about 5 minutes (this is the truth). Five minutes. Dependable prisoners would be given a choice: help pull nails and clean bricks or continue to watch and listen to the worthless Jerry Springer show to fill up their empty afternoons. (3) What should be entertained is the possibility of conducting huge architectural sales right in the heart of Detroit. Here is the chance that the National Guard might have to be called up to safely guard the parcels where the sales would be held. Otherwise, let government stay at home; they will not show up to help - just the opposite - government is a roadblock to progress.

REPORTER: Who provides the equipment and the tools for exercising this project?
LONGANECKER: Many Penn. Amish & Mennonites have their own equipment. The Combine would be asked to provide ample trucking with low-boy and trailer hauling for these two sects to fulfill their salvage mission.
REPORTER: Can you be specific as to why and how private entrepreneurs can do better with their incentives than what government officials can do, having fixed salaries?

LONGANECKER: Currently, Detroit, Michigan viewed from a helicopter looks like a 'war-zone'. This condition prevails because of government and it will not improve because of government. Every time government opens its mouth in and around Detroit, conditions even get worse. The purpose of seeking this interview is that Detroit cannot continue like this into the immediate, foreseeable and distant future. The reason for a Gates, Buffet & Trump Combine is because in my estimation they are the top guns. Trump is an expert at converting any brickbat into a lovely, beautiful bouquet. That is his qualification. My belief is that these 3 would jump at an opportunity to purchase Detroit properties for "pennies" not dollars. My impression is that Detroit will persist 'as is' into infinity unless free enterprise forges and paves the way. If the U.S. is going into debt another one million dollars for every minute that passes on the clock (this amounts to about 1.5 billion everyday), then how long do you think that the switchboard for this global, economic barometer will continue to tick and not explode?

REPORTER: Perhaps others would qualify better than your chosen three for a combine. These 3 are human and obviously have weaknesses. Are there any loose links among them?
LONGANECKER: The players in this Combine: Gates, Buffet & Trump care about what others think of them. They will not deliberately take a descent, a nose-dive if you will, into 2nd, 3rd or 4th class citizenship by foolishly making a giant leap into a hazy-at-best, long range, risque investment. If not these 3 then who? The effort to convert Detroit into not only brown ground but into green pastures once again is not a foolish notion. This former Paris of the Midwest has the potential for blossoming into a new oasis. The qualifications for membership into a designated Detroit combine that would lead the way are: individuals who's sharp vision of a future Detroit far exceeds the thickness and weight of that wad bulging in their pocketbooks and a determination to conquer any fear that in signing up for this combine might reduce their level of citizenship which they have thus far fought  for and attained.

REPORTER: One final note of interest. What qualifications of a special nature should the combine be looking for with regard to the Mennonite & Amish teams?

LONGANECKER: Look no further. Here we have a reversal. The state of Michigan qualifies for them. The state tree of Michigan is white pine and obviously more reclaimed white pine will be found in the 70,000 currently empty buildings in Detroit than one might find in 70,000 buildings in some other state. Reclaimed white pine happens to be the species of choice for both the Mennonites and the Amish here in Pennsylvania for use in their antique reproduction furniture businesses. AN  ACCOMMODATING CONCURRENCE TO SAY THE LEAST/   LET'S GO FOR IT/

FYI   John  Longanecker is NOT  the founder of the Aspers International Liars Club



Detroit: a "Paris of the Midwest" or a Slum forever?

Centre Mills Antique Floors maintains a sizable inventory of hand-hewn barn beams, complete original log houses, and hand-hewn joists.

Call for the availability of:

Why Consider Antique Wood?

For that special new home, remodeling project or room addition, why not choose the ultimate in flooring - antique wood? For more than 38 years, we have been in the business of salvaging old wooden beams, floor joists and flooring from early 18th and 19th century buildings discovered along the rolling green hills of Pennsylvania and Maryland. The beauty of the ‘timeworn’ wood in these buildings is without question. Not only does the wood have the unique grain from trees that may have lived 250 years or more, but it also has that special coloring due to the curing elements of nature and time. The wood, when precisely planed and milled, looks spectacular and still retains its natural beautiful patina. We are fortunate to have a fine, unusual collection of antique oak flooring, PA native yellow pine and white pine, American chestnut (a tree that no longer grows in North America) and antique Western fir. We also have handhewn barn beams and complete antique log cabins. Who is there to debate the great poet, Walt Whitman, when he alludes to the “sentiment of the huge timbers of old fashion’d houses and barns?” Truly, there is nothing more beautiful than a hardwood floor of antique wood, time-honored by God's patience and the intonations of Nature. The cost per square foot is surprisingly affordable.

To paraphrase Eric Sloane: “The beauty of old wood in its state

of pleasing ‘weatherization’ is one of Nature's special masterpieces.”

  • Doors
  • Old glass
  • Shutters
  • Mantels
  • Cast iron fencing
  • Cupolas

Built in 1841, the large grist mill at Centre Mills still stands and is used for the storage of architectural elements by Centre Mills Antique Floors. We are a wrecking and salvage firm  to remove old buildings; then we transform into an antique wood & architectural appreciation center when receiving inquiries from you.

View a few of our projects in our Gallery to gather inspiration for your next project.