Lost Art Press Headquarters, an Update

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For the last two years, Lucy and I have been looking for the right urban storefront for the next stage of our lives, which will begin as soon as our daughter Katy, 14, goes to college.

We’ve looked at dozens of properties in person (hundreds online) and have come close to making an offer on two. I plan to die in the building that we buy – at the bench if I’m lucky – so I’m picky about every detail – light, the architectural core and the neighborhood for starters.

Whenever I teach a class or speak to a club, I get asked several questions: Are you opening a woodworking school? A retail store? A place to film online videos?

The answer is: None of the above.

Lost Art Press, our business, will not change. We are dedicated to making printed books (and the rare DVD) about hand-tool woodworking. We don’t want to start a school or a subscription-based website. Why? We’re passionate about books. Full stop. It’s how we learn woodworking, and we think it is still the best way to transfer the knowledge forward through time.

But this building will fertilize two parts of our business that have been dormant during our first eight years. They involve you, so that’s why I feel compelled to write about them today.

  1. A Mechanical Library. Our research begins in the library and ends at the workbench. As such, we have accumulated many hundreds of books on woodworking, many of which have not been digitized. With this new building, we plan to dedicate significant space to our library, which grows every week. It will be a membership library, but the membership won’t cost money. It will be something even more dear. Consider reading about the famous Cincinnati Time Store for details.
  2. A Woodworking Laboratory. During the last few years I have taken to collaborating with other woodworkers of all skill levels to work out sticky joinery and design problems. Putting four or six minds to work on a question produces amazing results, and it almost eliminates the idiosyncratic nature of some woodworking teaching. Running an active lab isn’t an effort to make the craft more vanilla or textbook-like. Instead, it is a way of quickly getting past the blind spots of individual researchers and woodworkers. Since I started working collaboratively with other woodworkers, I have found the extra brains lend great clarity to my work.

Today Katy and I looked at a 19th-century property that originally was the Rust Cornice Works, a storefront and factory for making sheet-metal architectural details. The location was perfect. There was plenty of space (more than 10,000 square feet). But the windows faced west. And I’d need to dump at least $150,000 into the building to make it a place to live and work. We have seen better.

The other property on our short list this week looks promising, and it includes a liquor license (no, we’re not opening a bar).

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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29 Responses to Lost Art Press Headquarters, an Update

  1. diceloader says:

    Your cats wouldn’t deal well with the lingering smell of dogs in that place.

  2. martin says:

    “We’re passionate about books. Full stop. It’s how we learn woodworking, and we think it is still the best way to transfer the knowledge forward through time.”

    There couldn’t be anything more American. I remember hearing from David McCullough on his 1776 book tour that this country was founded by people who believed that “anything could be learned from books.” On the other hand, I do not know what Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton et al would have to say about DVDs.

  3. Pat Mcnulty says:

    Next time you are traveling south on I 77 stop in Bluefield Wv, and take a look around, for 150k you could buy the down town and the city fathers would welcome you with open arms.

    P

    • Pat,

      No doubt. But Covington has a multi-generational connection for my wife’s family that is as important as the asking price. And gigabit internet, which is becoming critical to our research and book production.

  4. kendewitt608 says:

    Maybe you you could sell the liquor li to some one one else and reduce your cost ?

  5. jonathanszczepanski says:

    You say you’re not building a bar, but you didn’t say anything about a pub!
    Biergarten?! Speakeasy? Ale house? Tavern? Saloon? …

  6. Narayan says:

    If you do, in fact, die at your Workmate while filming a video about how you built a 3D-printed birdhouse empire from the back of your Covington bartending school, I call dibs on the eulogy.

    All I’m going to say is that it will involve unholy amounts of glitter.

  7. wilburpan says:

    I’m with you on the window direction thing. When we bought our house, we looked for one that faced north, because it’s good feng shui. And even if you don’t necessarily believe in feng shui, there are enough folks who do around here that we figured it would be better not to buy a house that 25% of the potential buyers in the area might reject out of hand if we ever had to sell it. We passed on houses where the street number ended in 4 and houses that stood at the end of a road for the same reason.

  8. Couldn’t you just look at a place across the street…?

  9. turdfighter says:

    I pledge 2 hours to respond to trolls

  10. Jeremy says:

    Will there be lab coats? There should definitely be lab coats in a laboratory. I can’t wait to see the direction you take on your next move, given the level of thought and effort you are putting into it, it should be great.

  11. Damien says:

    The two words: dying, workbench and up comes the image of “Death by Roubo”. So sad, maybe a liquor license is a necessity.

  12. Roger Benton says:

    Gotta love a man with a plan. All the best on this unique and interesting endeavor. Can’t wait to visit.

  13. artisandcw says:

    While your concept of a “downtown” location is Dante’s Seventh Circle of Hell to me, I admire greatly and absolutely endorse the systematic approach you are taking. I first began as a teenager articulating the vision for The Barn, and began compiling a detailed and eventually lengthy list describing the location, setting, community, topography, and even the local geography. So I’m back in the holler, a mile from my nearest neighbor, 90 minutes from a moderately sized town. By the time we had the means to pull the trigger on the dream and narrowed down the search, we found our place within 12 months, albeit almost forty years after the original vision. Count me in as one of your regular visitors there..

    • Don,

      It’s funny how we to the same place taking different paths. I find serenity in urban places for some reason – it might be a reaction to my years on the farm surrounded by armadillos and wild turkeys.

      And our door will always be open to you!

      • steveschafer says:

        My brother and I (who grew up in the same house!) are like you and Don. He lives in Brooklyn and works in Manhattan. I couldn’t last a day there; I live in a forest in Appalachia.

  14. If you haven’t already, check in with Jody Robinson with the City of Bellevue, KY. She’s the force of nature behind a lot of the positive changes in Bellevue and always has a lead on openings that others aren’t even aware of. She probably has some leads in Covington as well.

  15. shelbuh says:

    Chris, can you post about window direction (or reply here)? I’m a professional trumpeter who also makes reproduction trumpets from the 16-19th centuries. (Although most of my ed has been in music, I also have a masters in architecture where I’ve done a ton of study on lighting/similar… LEED certified for many years).

    I find preference for window direction is not always what I expect it to be.

    As a photographer, I LOVE north light as well as open shade during bright days… but in my studies about period instrument making, the old craftsmen almost always preferred south-facing windows when doing fine brass-making work as the contrast was so much higher (which aided in seeing fine details.

    Thoughts?

    • My first preference is north for the reasons you mentioned and the more constant color temperature. South is fine, depending on where you live. In the winter here the sun is pretty low. East and west would be my last choice because of the harsh shadows and color shifts during the day.

      I usually work without overhead light, except when I use machines.

  16. Best of Luck!!! This sounds fantastic!! I would hope when you are set up. You continue your sharing of this knowledge,.. in the way I also like to get it. In books and by working it out at the bench.

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