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The Shepherd Community Center
is doing the opposite of a barn raising.
Local politicians and Shepherd Community Center volunteers gathered in Hamilton County on Sunday for a unique fundraising opportunity — a barn deconstruction.
State Sen. Jim Merritt, Rep. Jerry Torr and Indianapolis mayoral candidate Chuck Brewer helped Shepherd employees and board members carefully take apart the more than century-old barn on 146th Street so the wood could be sold to benefit the community center.
It’s an unusual way to make money, but Mark Frisbie, a Shepherd employee, said the organization hopes to make $25,000 to $30,000 from the reclaimed wood.
“The traditional means of fundraising are drying up,” Frisbie said. “We’re looking for new revenue sources.”
Shepherd Community Center is an Eastside nonprofit serving children and their families through before- and after-school programming, job training, neighborhood revitalization and health initiatives.
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“I had no idea reclaimed wood was so lucrative,” Brewer said. “I’ve been watching (Shepherd) very closely because the Eastside is going through such an effort to transform itself. There never seems to be enough money, so I’m always interested to see innovative ways to make some money.”
Frisbie has been deconstructing barns for the reclaimed wood for four years and either sells the wood or uses it for furniture through his studio, Gergen Design Studio. He said it’s mostly bought by people looking to use it for interior decorating in wineries, restaurants and homes.
“It’s been cool for a while,” he said. “People who are green-conscious are all over it.”
He said he sells the wood as fast as he can get it.
Merritt said he has seen lots of people use reclaimed wood in cable TV home renovation shows.
“It doesn’t surprise me at all that we’re probably going to be able to raise a lot of money,” he said. “It’s an interesting way to do it.”
Merritt is a longtime supporter of Shepherd and just wanted to pitch in Sunday. He said he’d sleep well afterward.
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This is the first barn Shepherd has taken apart. John Kesler, a Shepherd Community Center board member, said he hopes to make it a monthly event. One of the problems of being an inner-city nonprofit is that people in places such as Carmel or Noblesville have to drive a long way to volunteer. By taking down barns in counties neighboring Marion, they have opportunities to volunteer closer to home, he said.
A secondary benefit of the project is the jobs that will be created when Shepherd hauls the wood to Indianapolis to be processed. Frisbie said the organization will hire men who have spent time in correctional facilities and have a hard time finding employment to prepare the wood for sale.
“One of the biggest problems with our neighborhood is there are no jobs,” said Frisbie, who is moving his studio from Plainfield to the Near Eastside. He expects the project to create up to 15 jobs.
Buy PhotoMark Frisbie of Shepherd Community Center in Indianapolis moves a giant beam. Reclaimed wood from a barn dismantled in Noblesville on Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015, will be sold, and the proceeds will go to help Shepherd.
The barn was donated by Mark Gradison of Gradison Design-Build. Kesler said the barn had to come down anyway to make room for Gradison’s development, but this way Shepherd profits and Gradison gets a tax deduction.
It usually takes Frisbie about three weeks with a team of six to take apart a barn because it has to be done carefully to preserve the wood. Gradison needs the barn gone in 10 to 14 days, and Shepherd is on day five. Valenti Held Contractor Developer donated some equipment to help with the process.
Frisbie guessed the barn dates to the 1860s because the lumber is hand-hewn — somebody carved the beams with an ax. He thinks it was a hobby barn of some sort.