History – The Search is on

After the meeting, the attitude was “We built FCW once, we can do it again.” The only problem was that the initial build took six years. Even so, there was a determination to rebuild.

Meetings were scheduled twice per week. The Saturday meetings were scheduled at the Caldwell County Public Library in Lenoir and the Tuesday meetings were rescheduled to Wednesday so as to meet at the Community Center in Granite Falls. Michelle got a PO Box for mail and Bruce contacted the 3d printer company (Prusa) to put the printer order on hold. Michelle worked out an arrangement with Aiken Controls of Lenoir to act as a shipping address.

Rick called Mitch and Lisa to inform them of the fire. Both Mitch and Michelle had vehicles parked outside FCW and were concerned about them. It took several days, but finally, we were allowed to check them out. Both Mitch’s bus and Michelle’s truck survived intact but stank of “burning rubber” smoke. The truck was moved to Aiken Controls and came in handy sooner than we expected.

At the meetings, it was decided that Colin and Rich would coordinate looking for a new building either to lease or buy.  Michelle, Kay, Ross, and Mitch would coordinate the “equipment scrounge.”  Everyone was told to keep eyes open for buildings and equipment.

Bennett Harris from Burlington contacted us almost immediately.  He had spread the word about the fire and was getting replies.  One makerspace in Indiana said that they would collect items from multiple spaces and bring them down after we found a building, so we sent them a list of items lost.  As it turned out, their assistance was not needed but the offer was greatly appreciated and shows the cooperation of what is normally considered as a group of independent organizations.

Fate  was on our side as item donations started coming in.  A person that FCW had met at the Charlotte Mini-Makerfaire called and offered some equipment.  It was in Davidson (about 60mi away) but included a heavy duty drill press, a table saw, a metal bandsaw, a wood lathe and some tools.  He would hold it until we could pick it up.

Just a few weeks after the fire, Hackerspace Charlotte,  (who had inspired the creation of FCW), decided to close up and posted a notice on Facebook.  They were a 501(c)3 and would have to give their assets to another 501(c)3.  Michelle sent them a message telling about the fire and that FCW would be willing to accept anything.  One of their board members contacted Rich and arranged to come to one of our  meetings to discuss the offer.  They were willing to donate quite a bit to FCW, but had only a few days to remove it from their building.   Brandon offered to let us store items in his garage as long as needed, Both Mitch and Michelle, being somewhat optimistic, rented storage units.  Mitch, Ron, Brad, Kay, Robert, and Michelle took the truck and two trailers to Charlotte (about 70 miles), to get what was offered.  Michelle and Kay dropped by Davidson to get the donated equipment there.  Significant items from Charlotte included, many tables and chairs, a tabletop mill being converted to CNC, a table saw, metal and wood bandsaws, air compressors, some large screen monitors, a vacuu-form machine, two small laser cutters, and numerous tools. 

Mark, a former member, contacted Michelle about a machining company in Hickory that was closing their building.  Again, there was a limited time to get stuff.  Mitch, Lisa, Robert, and Brad took the truck and trailer to collect what we could.  This donation included more chairs, desks, steel wall panels intended to hold part bins (no bins), and a large Mahu CNC mill.  Since there was no building yet, Brad kept the Mill on his trailer in his barn.

Lasersaur 2’x4′,

Rich had sent a report of the fire into Hackaday.  In the comments section, someone from Dallas Makerspace (TX), said that they had a Lasersaur (large laser cutter) that they may be willing to give us.  Michelle contacted them and started a discussion.  Eventually FCW got the Lasersaur and some electronic equipment/parts by just paying the shipping.

Several local people donated items.  Curt gave us a nice couch set when he bought a new one for his house.  At the peak, FCW had items being stored at 12 different locations.  Now, we just needed a building.

In early September, a Ham Radio class was conducted by Michelle at the library.  Soon after, FCW set up a display at the Catawba Valley Pride at the Science Center in Hickory.  Since almost everything was gone, personal computers were used to set up a slide show.

During this time, the search was still on for a building.  Michelle investigated a building at the Industrial Park in Lenoir, and a building in Downtown Lenoir.  Rich and Colin checked out a former furniture showroom and two former churches in Granite Falls.  Brandon found out that a former school in Hudson might be available.  Gene looked at a building in Sawmills.  In each case, the building was too small, too expensive, had inadequate power, or required too much repair.

Building at 141 N Main

Kay loves to read property listings and realty magazines.  While reading one, she stumbled across a building in Granite Falls that looked interesting.  Dating back to the 1920’s, the building was on Main street and was being used as a warehouse for an Amazon retailer.  That company was purchasing and moving to a larger building and had put this one on the market.  It was two floors with a total of 11000 square feet.  The building had once been a sock factory and had 3 phase 600A power, but all the heavy wiring in the building had been removed.  Several trips were made by the FCW board and members to see the building and it rose to the No. 1 spot.  Rental/lease was not an option, but we perferred to purchase a building if we could anyway.  Rich and Colin went to the bank to see how much credit we could get with a reasonable down payment and monthly mortgage.  Three offers were made before a deal was reached, but one finally was reached and we were told that FCW could take possession of the building at the end of October.

Then the work started to rebuild the areas.

The Rebuilding Begins



A Hackerspace/Makerspace for the NC Foothills