Concord’s homeless resource center officially named the Tom Fredenburg House

  • Tom Fredenburg COURTESY

  • Tom Fredenburg

  • Executive Director Ellen Groh welcomes guests to the Concord Homeless Resource Center now named “The Tom Fredenburg House” on North Main Street in Concord on Thursday evening. GEOFF FORESTERMonitor staff

  • The sign out front of the Concord Homeless Resource Center on Main Street in Concord is now named for Tom Fredenburg. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Tom Fredenburg’s son Angus sings with his father’s band ‘The Holy Rollers’ at the dedication of the Concord Homeless Resource Center being named ‘The Tom Fredenburg House’ on North Main Street in Concord on Thursday evening, October 24, 2019. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Tom Fredenburg’s band “Wholly Rollers” plays at the dedication for the naming of the Concord Coalition to End Homelessness Resource Center on in his honor Thursday. The center is now named “The Tom Fredenburg House.” GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 10/28/2019 4:25:30 PM

Signs everywhere at 238 N. Main St. show how much Tom Fredenburg cared.

Literally, on Thursday night, the Concord Coalition to End Homelessness displayed signs throughout its resource center, named in Fredenburg’s honor: They planned to have signs in places like the shower, which he installed so guests would have a space to wash. By the handicap access ramp he put in. The new flooring he built in several rooms.

“He was the handyman – he was always fixing all kinds of things and renovating all kinds of things. He just jumped in wherever he was needed,” said Ellen Groh, The Concord Coalition to End Homelessness executive director. “He did a ton of work on all of that to save us money so that whatever money we had could go to serving our mission.”

“That’s my image of him, just working on the house so graciously,” Groh added, reflecting on memories of Fredenburg. “I never heard him complain about anything.”

Not only did Fredenburg, who was a member of the board for a number of years, do a lot of free construction work on the resource center, but he bought the building and rented it to the coalition without interest for years before the organization was able to purchase it in 2017. He sold it to the coalition for $199,000 in 2017.

Fredenburg knew the coalition hoped to provide housing options one day for the people it serves experiencing homelessness. In 2014, when it was up for sale, he thought the house on North Main Street could be it.

“It was a very unformed idea, but he was just sure given its location that we should be grabbing this opportunity. He stepped off the board and he bought it himself,” Groh said. “He put his money completely at risk and he figured it out.”

At the time, the coalition’s emergency winter shelter was located in donated space at South and First Congregational Churches, and its resource center was in a cramped space on South State Street. 

When the coalition needed to move out of those spaces in 2015, the coalition needed to turn elsewhere for a place to hold its resource center. They moved it to the N. Main Street property temporarily and eventually decided to make the N. Main Street building its permanent, new resource center and to build to a new emergency winter shelter in its backyard.

That paved the way for the coalition to come up with its plan to renovate four apartments on Green Street to create housing for people in need. The coalition now is in the process of getting planning board approval for those apartments, working through federal requirements regarding lead paint, and getting their construction bids. Groh said they hope to have them occupied by next summer.

Groh said it was a huge loss to the community when Fredenburg died of a heart attack in May.

On Thursday night, the resource center was officially named the Tom Fredenburg House. Friends and family came to celebrate Fredenburg and share memories of him.

Fredenburg’s son, Angus, ​sang in his father’s band, the Wholly Rollers, which came to the celebration.

“He had a kind heart and was a joy to be around,” Groh said. “He had the utmost respect for the people we served.”

In addition to his work on the resource center, Fredenburg, a former attorney, also provided free legal advice to guests at the winter shelter for years.

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