About the Barns

Posted Apr 25, 2016 in News, Utility of the Future

When I took on the role as project lead for the building of the new home for the #UtilityoftheFuture, I braced myself for the myriad of questions that I knew would come from co-op members, the local community, my co-workers and others. I’ve spent many hours mentally preparing to tackle whatever was thrown my way, but never in a million years would I have anticipated the most frequently asked question of all.

What about the old red barns?

The property that we purchased at the intersection of M-60 and Decatur Road is steeped in the tradition that is Ed Lowe and his foundation, and those beautiful red barns are certainly a rich part of that history. They are a beloved landmark in the local community, and we’re working hard to honor that as we prepare to break ground on our new building.

We learned from our friends at the foundation that Ed bought the barns in 1967, and they were used for years as part of the ongoing farming operation. In the 1980s, they were converted into Haymarket Antiques and Designs, and Mrs. Lowe helped create a local antiques and artists community. Another transition occurred in the 1990s when the local Boys and Girls Club moved in and operated until they closed their doors in 2010.

A lot of history, and I’m sure a lot of great memories.

So what about the old red barns? Well, the short answer is they have to go in order for us to develop the space we need. The longer story is that we are taking extreme care to make sure that the history and memories live on through our building and around the community.

Our friends at the foundation put us in touch with Wicky Construction, individuals that they have used and trust to carefully and lovingly deconstruct the barn, and repurpose as much of the wood and surrounding Illinois pink granite pavers and large boulders as possible. Some of that will be used in our new building and in our landscaping as our way to honor Ed and the amazing things he did for this community. Wicky will find good homes for the rest of it. The barns as they exist today will be no more, but their beauty will live on in many different projects across the region.

That deconstruction process will start in late May. The structures will be demolished down to the foundations, and the foundations will be ground into gravel and also repurposed regionally.

We are a 75-year old company, started through the grassroots efforts of individuals right here in this community. We understand and appreciate history and tradition, and promise to honor that in the work we do at our new property.  As the deconstruction efforts begin, we’ll share pictures and as many stories as we can about how those beloved red barns are repurposed. Tradition will live on within the walls of the #UtilityoftheFuture and across the region.

By Roger Bowser
Roger Bowser is the Manager of Energy Programs and Services for Team Midwest, and the project manager for our #UtilityoftheFuture headquarters build. He brings great value to our members with his depth of expertise on energy efficiency efforts and programs, and equal value to this project with his extensive knowledge of building science.

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