he buzz of a circular saw, din of clattering wood and whine of a wireless drill filled the space inside Madison Street Salvage.

Stacks of old window panes, their white paint faded and peeling, lined the wall. Worn 2-by-4 pieces of lumber were stacked in a corner. Well-used antique handles and other hardware were portioned out on a table.

A group of about a dozen people had come together to learn how to take pieces of something old, and turn it into a new project. By the end of the night, they would have a greenhouse to set up in their own garden.

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The class was the first in a series of workshops put on by Franklin Heritage, the nonprofit conservation group that works to preserve Franklin’s unique architectural history. To help homeowners carry out their own projects, organizers envisioned monthly courses giving them the knowledge and abilities to save their own structures.

From learning how to cement, plaster and drywall to building a customized mud bench out of an old door, the hope is to foster the importance of historic structures in the city.

“Mostly its an educational effort focused on Franklin Heritage’s goals of historic preservation in the city. We want people to empower themselves on how to restore their own homes and their own buildings,” said Danny Causey, director of architectural salvage for Franklin Heritage.

The series is a call-back to the original mission of Franklin Heritage. Almost from the time the organization started in 1983, it had offered seminars teaching people how to work with historic homes.

The first seminar was conducted on May 16, 1984, and focused on Victorian gardens.

As the organization started acquiring and fixing up historic structures in the city, foremost being the Artcraft Theatre, those classes were put on hold.

“It’s part of our mission to teach people about historic preservation,” Causey said. “When Franklin Heritage purchased the Artcraft, it was such a huge project that some of those things were put on the back burner. Now, we’ve grown enough where we can do workshops again.”

All of the classes will be held at Madison Street Salvage, a former butcher shop that Franklin Heritage refurbished to house and sell architectural salvage pieces to support its work.

The workshop topics vary widely. One month, people can master the basics of hand and power tools to eliminate being intimidated before their project starts.

Other seminars teach more advanced directives, such as how to restore wood windows or to rewire light fixtures.

Participants can figure out the best way to research their own historic home or to identify the best wood types for different types of projects.

“Even though some of our workshops are about Pinterest-type projects, we still have the tried and true Franklin Heritage-style classes, too,” Causey said. “We also called out to people asking what they’d like to see here. It’s a combination of all of those.”

To bring all of these lessons together, Franklin Heritage also planned a few make-it-and-take-it courses. In the course of a single evening, people can build a harvest table out of a door or use a salvaged hinge-top window to make a coffee table.

The first workshop of the series was a chance to make a greenhouse for the garden out of windows.

Franklin resident Kathy Etter came to the class after picking up a flyer at the Johnson County Garden Celebration. She had been interested in learning more about home improvement, particularly in using historic and salvaged materials.

The prospect of using circular saws and drills was slightly intimidating, but she was excited to have a better grasp of using tools for projects at her own home.

“This is very new for me to make something like this,” Etter said. “But we have a garden at home, and I wanted to learn more about doing things like this.”

Adelle Dusold was convinced to participate in the series by her father, Darrell Dusold, who is a member of Franklin Heritage. She had helped her father on home improvement projects growing up, and now as an adult, she wanted to learn more about doing that kind of work herself.

“There were a lot of DIY projects at home,” Dusold said. “This one seemed interesting, and I’ll probably make it around to take the other classes as well.”

Organizers had tried to make the project as simple as possible. Every piece of material that would be needed was laid out, separated and put together in a kit.

The windows had been salvaged when the Indiana Masonic Home did its own renovation. Legs for the greenhouse came from cut pieces of recovered lumber.

Step-by-step instructions were written up on the workshop’s wall-long blackboard, and volunteers were assigned to each participant to assist with the tools and fitting each piece together.

They were only there to help, though. The volunteers let participants work the drills, automatic screwdrivers and other tools on their own, to learn better, Causey said.

“We hope people take away some knowledge in both the building trades and historic preservation,” he said.

Organizers are encouraged about the excitement people have had for the program so far. With more people having a base of knowledge about historic upkeep in the city, Franklin Heritage will have even more support as it expands its scope and the projects it wants to do, Causey said.

“We want to inspire passion for historic preservation in Franklin,” he said. “We think there’s already a lot of passion for that in Franklin, and we want to keep a good thing going.”

If you go

Franklin Heritage Workshops

What: A series of monthly seminars on different topics and projects related to historic preservation.

Where: Madison Street Salvage, 350 E. Madison St., Franklin


  • June 25: Basic hand and power tools, 6 to 8 p.m., learn how to use tools in a safe, hands-on environment, $25.
  • July 19: Cement, plaster and drywall, 6 to 8 p.m., discover how to fix different issues with local experts, $25.
  • Aug. 16: How to restore wood windows, 6 to 8 p.m., watch and participate in restoring vintage windows, either by bringing in your own window to restore or working on a provided single-pane window, $50.
  • Sept. 20: How to research your historic home, 6 to 8 p.m., Franklin Heritage staff will spend one month doing research on your home, then reveal those findings at the workshop while teaching you how to find more information, $30.
  • Oct. 18: Build a door mudroom bench, 6 to 9 p.m., build a mudroom bench from materials provided by Franklin Heritage, then take your project home with you, $150.
  • Nov. 15: Build a door harvest table, 6 to 9 p.m., participants will learn to make a table out of an old door, then take the project home with them, $150.
  • Dec. 6: Hinge-top window table, 6 to about 9 p.m., people will be able to learn how to and make a table out of a hinge-top window, $75.
  • Jan. 17, 2017: How to rewire a light fixture, 6 to about 9 p.m., experts will show how to rewire a simple vintage light, $35.
  • Feb. 21, 2017: Identifying wood types, 6 to about 9 p.m., figure out the best types of wood to use for different projects, including exotic wood and that from local trees, $25.

Information: HistoricArtcraftTheatre.org

Author photo
Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at rtrares@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2727.