Only in Indiana: Hobby becomes business for woman who reclaims old barn lumber


SHELBYVILLE, Ind. (WTHR) - Take a drive anywhere in Indiana (or the country, for that matter) and you will find one. A dilapidated tribute to yesteryear. Most of us look at them and think about the past. Angela Crouse looked at them and thought about the future.

"I don't do sales meetings. I don't fly on planes. I walk around in dirty barns and straw and take down wood,” Crouse said.

Three years ago, Crouse was in the corporate world but flirting with a hobby: building barn tables from old barn wood.

"People kept calling me even when I was away on business for my other life. People kept calling and asking for things so I just felt like this is something I am supposed to do."

As we talked in her studio in Shelbyville, it was clear the hobby has become a business.

"People want to have a piece of history and so all those things came together for me and told me this is not a hobby. This is something people want and I can make a business out of it,” she said.

People started asking if they could buy the beams or the barn siding, so she started a website and a business: Reclaimed Barns and Beams.

For this 48-year-old single mother of seven, this is more than just reclaiming wood.

"People need to see a role model, someone who is able to have a dream and act on it and make it a reality. Otherwise we just have a lot of dreams that never become a reality, so reclaiming your dream is really important to me," said Crouse.

The biggest surprise may be how many people find it hard to believe a woman is doing it.

"It's kind of annoying, it really is and then I have to step back and think ‘this is not normal.’ I understand what I am doing is very unique and different. ‘Who else does this work for you?’ I get that a lot and it's really me. Myself and my boys who help me learn to do this, because anyone can learn to do anything if they are passionate about it."

The barn she is looking at was built in the 1890s.

"We can take these barns down all day long but if we don't have a way to sell the lumber on the other side of it we can't take the barns down. They will just be lost or rot or they will be burnt or buried and then that heritage will just be gone. Not to mention that barn there has amazing hand-hewn beams that were enormous trees that were probably growing in the late 1800s.

Angela is anxious to reclaim that history with a philosophy that applies to both the barn and to life.

"You only get so many tomorrows. That is all you are ever going to get and if you wait until tomorrow they will be gone."

By the way, we’re not the only ones noticing Angie's success. She recently appeared on the HGTV show "Good Bones."

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