Schwartz manages barn restoration in Indy

Authored by Jim Langham on Feb 1, 2013

When Indianapolis CEO Robert Jacobi saw a blaze destroy buildings beside his Brookville Road business a couple of years ago, his creative mind visualized some type of historic restoration housing portions of his business on the site.
“Our business was growing, we needed a bigger building to house the work that we do,” said Jacobi, who was able to secure the property.
When Jacobi became more serious about his dream, he was directed to local restoration contractor Amos Schwartz for a solution to his vision.
When Jacobi talked to Schwartz, the esteemed restoration contractor told him that he believed he knew of a barn east of Celina that might work. Schwartz secured the barn and moved it to a site close to his rural Geneva home to mark boards, map it out and prepare it for shipment and reconstruction in Indianapolis.
As the construction began, Jacobi’s wife, Freddi, utilized her special photography skills to take still life pictures and videos to prepare a documentary about the reconstruction of the barn.
Freddi, who had been a school teacher, recalled a mandatory book required of her students entitled, “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.” She then fashioned her documentary, complete with many interviews with Schwartz, and called it “A Barn Grows in Brookville.”
“I’ve always been impressed with the way that people work with their hands,” said Freddi. “I wanted to do a tribute to Amos and the barn and my husband. I also wanted this to be a tribute to workers. They let me be underfoot.”
Jacobi said that the barn was 18 by 84 feet and 39 feet to the peak at the cupola. Construction of the barn took nearly two years, due to changes in building requirements by the state and the city of Indianapolis.
“It is such a joy to do barns like this,” said Schwartz on the documentary. “Once they are gone, they’re gone forever. This way, relatives and friends 100 years from now can still enjoy this barn and say, ‘look, wow, somebody did something right.’
“When we took this down, we labeled everything before we took it down,” continued Schwartz. “We made a drawing and then put it into a big drawing. When we put it all together, we knew what pieces went where.”
Schwartz said he believed that the old structure was made of trees that had been cut down and shaped in the late 1840s. He noted that some things had to be changed in restoring the barn because of regulations governing it because it was going to be used for public use.
“The barn had to be revamped to fit the needs,” said Schwartz. “It went together so fine. It was a joy to work on it; we had good help.”
Jacobi said it was inspiring to him to watch the elderly experienced construction workers join the young crew in restoring the barn.
Freddi said she admired Amos and the laborers.
“It was all so wonderful to watch the men work; Amos is way too serious when he’s got a job to do,” she said.
“Everything we’ve done is fairly unusual,” said Jacobi. “Barns were the engine that grew America when it had an agriculture base.”
“I am very proud of this and having that barn there,” said Schwartz. “People don’t realize how many sleepless nights we had to figure this out. People look at the barn and say, ‘nice, nice, nice.’ People don’t realize all that goes into restoring a barn.”

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