An old-fashioned barn raising happens in Cheshire

Your Turn
Chas Fitzgerald

The spark of an idea happened last summer when Michael Creed was talking with Bill Adams about a looming problem in the Village of Cheshire.

Creed was about to begin construction on six new townhouses that would complete the block in Cheshire. Looking ahead, he could see no place to accommodate the mailboxes for future residents. Adams was aware of the current arrangement of mail delivery that had scattered locations in the community. Through a lease arrangement between the homeowners and the building’s owner, most of the mailboxes were affixed to the back side of a small sales office. The townhouses’ mailboxes, however, were in an alley.

“We inquired to purchase the building so we could utilize the whole of it to serve an expanding resident population, but it was not available,” Adams said.

Realizing that the current lease arrangement could not service the long term needs as the neighborhood grew, the homeowners association contemplated the common areas it owned and decided to build its own postal shed across the street from the building that currently held homeowners’ mailboxes. The new building could allow all the mailboxes to be gathered in one location. And there would be room to grow.

Local Black Mountain architect Michael McDonaugh sketched a simple but picturesque 20- by 20-foot shed that evokes a vintage garden shed that perhaps North Carolina artist Bob Timberlake would paint. Thick rough-sawn cedar boards and a corrugated metal roof repeat the building materials commonly available during past decades.

The boards will be allowed to weather to a silver-grey. Antique brick were found in Asheville for the front walk. A handmade brick stamped “COMMUNITY” by Marshall clay artist Josh Copus is to be worked into the walk. Construction began in November

“Copus’ mission to build community through brick making spoke to me about how we came together as a neighborhood in an old-fashioned barn-raising sort of way to envision, then to raise funds, then to build our own postal shed,” said Teresa Arpin who serves as president of the association.

The structure - too small to be a cabin but too nice to be a utility shed - has elicited a lot of curiosity among customers at Black Bear Tavern.

The Village of Cheshire has seen a resurgence of construction in recent years. Several home sites have been sold, many with home plans. Across N.C. 9, Jacob’s Cottages is going to build new cottage homes as well.

“The postal shed can accommodate 100 mailboxes, so it will be sufficient to serve the whole neighborhood,” Adams said. “It will be a place to run into your neighbors, to connect with friends.”

On the back porch there will be benches, and out on the lawn there will be chairs. In addition, a community bulletin board, a recycling bin and a lending library will be included in the mail shed. The project is slated for completion by April.