The Cathance River Ecology Center, completed in 2006, welcomes visitors as they enter the preserve. It leads by example, built from sustainable materials and doing its work using only renewable energy. The facility is entirely off the electrical grid.
The story of its construction is fascinating, beginning just after CREA’s founding in 2000. It starts with John Wasileski, one of the two Johns who helped found CREA (John Rensenbrink is the second John). John W’s older sister and her husband had moved to a farm in New York where their Civil War-era barn needed a lot of work.
They knew John needed a barn for the Ecology Center he planned to build on the preserve, and this one seemed a perfect fit. With the help of Jesse Brubaker from Pennsylvania, a builder skilled in post and beam construction, the old barn was deconstructed and transported to its present location.
Construction took place over several years. A concrete foundation was laid by Crooker Construction and the barn frame reassembled by Brubaker in late 2003. The frame sat for a few years as CREA worked to raise money to finish the project. Hammond Lumber donated some of the lumber, money for the roof was raised, and construction continued in the fall of 2005. With generous donations and hard work from countless volunteers, the Center was finished in early 2006. Since then, improvements have been made to keep it as sustainable as possible, including a wind turbine, solar heating panel, and pellet stove.