Volunteers aid in Teppers building restoration

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

Lee Farnsworth doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty.

The Colorado resident drove 27 hours to Selma this past weekend to volunteer in the renovation of the Teppers building downtown. Appropriately dressed in a white hard hat, a “Real Talk” T-shirt, shorts and sturdy black construction boots caked in dust, Farnsworth stood outside of the historic landmark, marveled by its architectural beauty.

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“It’s such a beautiful building,” said Farnsworth, a member of the Freedom Foundation, the Parker, Colo.,-based organization that purchased Teppers last year.

“I’m here to do whatever I can,” Farnsworth said. “I’m learning how to be a construction crew member … on the job training.”

Farnsworth is one of 17 Freedom Foundation members who are volunteering to restore Teppers. Freedom Foundation CEO and Executive Director Mark Duke made the decision to purchase the vacant building with plans to transform it into a community hub.

Once renovations are complete, the building will feature a coffee shop, deli and ice cream parlor, evidenced in a sign placed in the first floor window.

The building will also house classrooms, conference rooms and office space for civic organizations.

“We bought the building but it’s not ours,” said Freedom Foundation member Sean Black. “We’re going to give it back to the community.”

Last week, volunteers began removing Teppers’ signature green aluminum siding, revealing an attractive storefront. While Farnsworth spent most of Tuesday removing debris surrounding the building’s exterior, other volunteers began the task of pressure washing the structure and cleaning out the interior. Farnsworth said there are some interesting items within Teppers’ walls, which include old computers, an old printing press and a vintage foot x-ray machine. Black said the pressure washing will continue throughout this week.

Black said the Freedom Foundation has received feedback from residents in reference to the removal of the building’s windows.

“We’re getting a lot of complaints that we’re tearing the place up,” Black said, “but it’s for the people’s safety.” Black assures residents the windows will be restored.

Black said the Freedom Foundation views the renovation as a “town project” and encourages the community to get involved.

“We’ll take any volunteers that wanna come,” Black said. “We’ve got plenty of work to do.”

For those interested in volunteering, contact the Freedom Foundation at www.freedomfoundation.org.