Restoration of the Meher Archive Collective building advances in preparation
for the move-in of MAC archival work.
for the move-in of MAC archival work.
Proposed Phases of Construction and Early Progress
Ken Blackman, Project Manager (September 18, 2019)
Greetings all Baba lovers, likers, and everyone else!
The Red Oak School project began in earnest a year ago. Under the guidance and direction of Peter Nordeen, and with the support of many volunteers and paid workers, we have made substantial progress on the 90 year old school building. The overarching aim is to ensure that the building is refurbished in such a manner as to last for centuries.
Early on, due to the enormity of the project, we decided to organize the work in three distinct phases:
Phase One (in progress)
Including work on the second floor of the classroom wing, this phase will ultimately provide sufficient space to hold the primary archival work and ongoing storage, as well as administrative offices and several rooms for Baba community functions. In time there will be rental spaces to help support the operations of the archive.
In addition, much attention has been given to the structure of the building, especially the roof. We are presently adding an eve system (overhang) to the roof to protect the exterior brick walls and windows. We have begun re-roofing with architectural shingles and will soon begin replacing the membrane on the flat parts of the roof. All this will ensure that we have an excellent roof system that will protect the building for many decades to come.
It’s anticipated that the first (ground) floor renovations will proceed more rapidly than phase one due to the fact that so much of the infrastructure will have already been addressed. This phase will make room for a library, further rental space, and other Baba community and archival space as needed.
This includes renovating the large auditorium with stage, green room and balcony/control room. Ultimately the auditorium will be available for large Baba community gatherings as well as rental space for other events such as weddings and concerts.
It is heartwarming to see The Red Oak School building receiving so much attention. Already this extraordinary location stands in service of the mission outlined by Baba – to spread His message of love to every corner of the world.
Join Ken for a 4 minute tour of the 2nd floor:
Flyover video of school:
At this time the Meher Archive Collective (MAC) has a rare opportunity to purchase the old RED OAK SCHOOL building in north Buncombe County (near Asheville, NC).
I have inspected the building and the property and I believe that it has practical value for the purposes of the Meher Archive Collective (MAC). Well designed and nicely constructed in 1928 on a relatively flat and elevated six plus acres, the reinforced concrete structure is non-combustible and shows little or no sign of deterioration. The quality of the brick and mortar used then was excellent and the brick veneer still looks to be in very good condition. The building has wide and safe fire egress paths.
Originally the building was heated with a steam boiler and large cast iron radiators. This original heating system was removed some years ago while the building was owned by Buncombe County, and the asbestos insulation of that original heating system was also completely removed at that time. Asbestos abatement is a critical consideration for older buildings, so that potential great expense is relieved.
Though some of the smaller windows have not been replaced, all the large windows have been replaced with modern energy efficient vinyl frame windows ($140,000 expense). All the original maple floors in the classrooms have also been refinished.
The property includes a small house that could serve as a residence for a caretaker.
The property has its own independent water well with a newer pump and a septic system that was designed for the school capacity, much more than what will be a typical demand by MAC. This eliminates a monthly municipal water and sewage expense.
Necessary improvements to the building will include infrastructure (plumbing, electrical, and HVAC), some framing, insulation, and wall surfacing, and the installation of fire doors at specific points to bring the building up to modern code.
Plumbing: Though the existing plumbing systems are functional, the rest room layout needs to be more spacious (to accommodate at least ADA stall in each), and the original pipe should now be replaced since it is 90 years old. Of course, all new work will be done in compliance with stringent modern codes.
Electrical: Though some of the existing system in the building has been updated and may be saved, most of the electrical infrastructure should be replaced to accommodate any present and future energy requirements, which will include a new 3-phase service main.
HVAC: In a building of this size, it is practical and efficient to condition large volume areas, and air environmental control will be essential for archive purposes. There will be at least three controlled zones in the building, which will also be isolated by rated fire separations.
Steel trusses provide the main structural support for the mansard style roof. The original covering over the flat top section leaks in places. This roofing will be removed and replaced with a modern more durable and energy efficient system.
The right portion of the building features a large auditorium with a stage, which will (eventually) require some updating. There is a functional institutional kitchen in the partial basement of the building here, which will also require some reconditioning. This side of the building can be easily isolated by an appropriate fire wall assembly and used as a separate reception/event space to provide income. If that plan is pursued additional parking spaces should be provided in the area at the front of the building.
There will be a lot of patching and painting work – much can be done by volunteers. There will also be other improvements to the building that can be done in the future as funds become available. Though this building is much larger than MAC needs at this time, it provides the opportunity for necessary expansion far into the future. We are projecting that the cost for this project at completion will be around fifty dollars per square foot – not bad for a building like this on six fine acres of land here. And the income producing potential may not only alleviate expenses for the functioning MAC, it may be able to eventually contribute funding to important projects for Avatar Meher Baba around the world.
I believe the opportunity to procure the RED OAK SCHOOL should not be missed.
In His love and service,