MICHELLE T. BERNARD
Much-needed repairs have begun on the arbor at the Tucker’s Grove Camp Meeting in Iron Station. Rotted beams are being replaced with wood of a similar age and the sides of the arbor are being raised to eight feet all around. Some of the pews and tin on the roof will be replaced as well. A grant from the Duke Endowment is being used to make the repairs.
The goal is to keep the same rugged look to the arbor, according to Tucker’s Grove Camp Meeting chairman Lewis McLean. The board of directors hired Jerard Walker of Artistic Reclaimed Designs in Lincolnton to do the repairs. McLean found Walker because of the old wood he had stacked out in front of his shop in Lincolnton.
Walker has been working in the “reclaiming” business for about four years. He first got into reclaiming old lumber when he saw the building that occupied the space that’s currently home to the East Main Street Ingles store in Lincolnton being torn down.
“I saw them tearing that building down and decided to go and see if they’d sell any of the wood,” he said. “Then to test the waters, I put an ad on Craigslist in Miami and was hired to do the entire interior of a barbecue restaurant and that snowballed into more work in both Miami and New York.”
Walker also did the historical rehabilitation of Trident Trikes on North Poplar Street in Lincolnton.
“Lewis stopped and asked about the wood I had stacked outside my shop and then asked if I wanted to come out and look at the arbor to see if I could handle the project,” Walker said. “That was a few years ago. We kept in touch and finally we got together on it.”
In order to find the lumber that Walker needs to complete the project he has traveled to Indiana, New York and Kentucky. This is the first time that Walker will be completely restoring a historic structure.
“It’s an art, working with the old wood and buildings,” Walker said. “Most carpenters can’t work with this wood. To keep the original look, which is what we specialize in, you have to match the replacement wood with the original wood so no one can tell where the old ends and the new begins.”
Walker said he anticipates that the work will be complete in a few weeks.
The grant from the Duke Endowment is $70,000 for 2016 and $30,000 for 2017, for a total of $100,000.
The Duke Endowment regularly offers grants to help strengthen rural United Methodist churches in North and South Carolina, according to the Duke Endowment web site.