Caledonia Historical Society Barn Project Stalled As Costs Doubled

20151210_125245The Caledonia Historical Society has been trying to raise this barn for over a year after We Energies donated it to them, but the project is at a standstill because the cost to build it has almost doubled.

And now — if they don’t collect an extra $16,000 — they’ll lose the $14,000 they do have, said Leroy Schmidt, president of the Caledonia Historical Society.

The barn, which was first insured in 1919, is part of a historical village located at Linwood Park that includes a blacksmith shop, school-house and train depot. But the project has not gone smoothly.

“The quote for the foundation and the building project was $15,000, but the state is requiring us to put in rebar and pillars on the second floor… and now the cost is $28,000,” Schmidt said.

The abandoned barn two-story barn was located on a property at 8414 Botting Road, a property We Energies purchased last year. We Energies donated the barn to the Caledonia Historical Society and paid for the barn to be moved to Linwood Park, 7305 5 Mile Rd. The Racine Community Foundation gave the Caledonia Historical Society $13,770 to help re-build the barn. But now that the project is at a standstill, the foundation wants its money back, Schmidt said.

State officials told the Caledonia Historical Society they didn’t want them to use the second floor and that if they did use the second floor they would need to reinforce it using stronger materials. But that increased the cost of the project and even though there wasn’t a deadline on building the project, the Racine Community Foundation wants its money back.

“We’re meeting with them next week to try to work something out,” Schmidt said. “It’s been a big headache for me and my group… we’ve put a lot of buildings together and haven’t this kind of trouble before. I don’t know why the state is being so fussy.”

The group wants to use the lower part of the barn for storage of wagons and tractors that others have donated to them, and use the second story as a museum area. They hosts tours, but usually the groups are under 20 people. They also hold a larger festival-type event, but the number of people that could go up there can be controlled, Schmidt said.

“We need to this get barn up,” Schmidt said. “We’re trying to move the walls, which are laying on the ground in sections so that we can get them covered.”

But Schmidt is also anxious to get donations to cover the rest of the cost of the project as they have already spent $3,600 of the $13,770 to dig the foundation and have the state review the project.

“I need money,” Schmit said.”I could give some businesses a tax write-off, but I also have to be careful on that too.”

If you would like to make a donation to the Caledonia Historical Society Barn project, call Leroy Schmidt at (262) 752-0062.

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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.