The Lost Art Press Horse Garage

Horse Garage Overall COA

Once you grab a sledgehammer, it’s hard to put it down.

What began as a mild demolition of the interior of the Horse Garage at our storefront blossomed/became infected. Now I am neck-deep in a major construction project that requires all my skills, most of my time and nearly everything in my bank account.

The reward, however, will be that I’ll have a place for the few machines I own, and they’ll be steps away from my bench room. Also, the butt-end of our property will look a lot more like it did the day in 1906 that they constructed the garage behind the store.

In addition to time, money and muscle, this project requires the cooperation of the City of Covington. We’re in an historical overlay district. Luckily, city officials here are helpful and supportive. I’ve yet to encounter an unreasonable roadblock. But you do have to submit paperwork. Lots of it. And I don’t like paperwork.

Horse Garage DoorsToday we proposed our changes and backed them up with archaeological evidence, drawings and a fully signed and dated form. If this gets approved, then I will be on a fast track to build four huge doors, assist in installing a new membrane roof and weatherproof the building before winter arrives.

I’m optimistic. Not only because of the huge carrot dangling in front of me – a nice room for machines – but because of the help of the local Latin American community. The restoration of Covington is being built with the backs of the immigrant laborers, and my building is no different. While I’m on the roof and lifting concrete blocks every dang day, this job would be a nightmare without the help of Manuel, Hugo and a number of other strong backs.


I am not trying to be political here, just honest. They work as hard as I do. They push me to take on as much as I can manage. And they do it all with a laugh and a smile.

As we lift these 50-lb. blocks up into place I can think only of my great-grandparents on the Schwarz side. According to my grandfather, they arrived in the Dakotas from Germany in the early part of the 20th century and were put to work making bricks. They saved enough to move to St. Louis and buy a boarding house. My grandfather was a paper salesman and freelance photographer. My father was the first Schwarz to go to college and became a physician.

And now I’m back to the bricks.

Circular irony aside, it feels damn good.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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33 Responses to The Lost Art Press Horse Garage

  1. jarvilaluban says:

    The only help I can get around here is of Germano-Lebanese origin. And the guy just sits around eating sausages and roasted lamb all day. Oh wait, that’s my brother.

  2. Salko Safic says:

    That man leaning on the rubbish bin reminds me of our council workers when building our roads.

  3. Chuck Burnett says:

    Let’s hope they start to write woodworking books too
    So we all can enjoy cheep labor

  4. I feel uncomfortable even referring to people by their “status”, but to add to the point, I have worked alongside both migrant workers and immigrants (many of whom knew little to no English), and without fail, they were the hardest workers of the bunch.

  5. nordichomey says:

    I work with a lot of Latin laborers. The craftsmanship is top notch. The work ethic is superior. The community is welcoming. But more than anything the comment on smiling… it is infectious and brightens my day.

  6. Israel Katz says:

    Both our countries were built on the back of newcomers. They came for both economic and/or political reasons. I think they left us a beautiful place to grow up and out in. Our politicians seem to forget their origins. its easy to step on the downtrodden. You don’t have to lift your feet to high.

  7. tpobrienjr says:

    I like the exterior stuff (pressed steel?).

  8. José Santiago says:

    Do you think they will make you put in a driveway?

  9. Jonathan Schneider says:

    Stunning project!!

  10. Eric R says:

    Bunglehouse Gray?….

    • amvolk says:

      That caught my attention, too. Bunglehouse does not quite sound right for marketing paint colors. But apparently it is a derivation of Bungalow:
      “But it turns out bunglehouse has a charming history: It comes from the Roycroft settlement in East Aurora, N.Y., a late-19th-century hotbed of Arts & Crafts design. The original bunglehouse, a converted chicken coop/blacksmith shop, now a museum, served as a studio for the artist Alexis Fournier. According to American Bungalow magazine, “Fournier named this idyllic but somewhat haphazard little building the ‘bungle-house,’ because, he said, ‘it didn’t deserve to be called a bungalow.'”
      See: as the reference.

  11. simonab59 says:

    i always liked your work and i admire your point of view on woodworking but after this post i like you even more! thanks for giving me some hope about the future of immigrants all over the world. I wish more people would see it the way you do.

  12. John Malcolm says:

    Chris, this is awesome. Excited to watch this space come to life. Any more details on the door design? I assume this style is from the period you’re shooting for? I’m looking to build similar carriage doors and this design intrigued me. Best of luck.

  13. Craig Regan says:

    One of those goose neck barn pendant light things might look good over each door (but maybe be too flashy for Covington?)

  14. Excited to see the doors. Do you have a garage at this location, or will the horse house double as a car garage?

  15. This may be my favorite LAP post ever. I can’t wait to see it finished.

  16. richardmertens says:

    Thank you for making this important point about immigrant workers. I live in Chicago, and I’ve found the same thing true of the Latino immigrants here. They do most of the manual labor in my part of the city, and they do it well. They work hard, and they know what they are doing. The flip side of this is that other people seem to shrink from working with their hands–and backs–even for the simplest tasks. I’ve noticed this in my own neighborhood, where a lot of academics live. It’s unfortunate–as if they feel that working with their hands is beneath them.

    • chucknickerson says:

      The work is above the academics, them just don’t realize it.

      • Chris Walker says:

        Surprising comments. I consider LAP a first rate academic organization with rigorous research,translation/interpretation of historical texts and artifacts, and the highest literary standards. The thought extends to many young academics who learn trades by trial and error to improve/repair houses they purchase with low salaries and no job security. Many also enjoy woodworking.

  17. Matth says:

    We certainly are fortunate in this country with our material wealth, which allows us to import both the brightest and the hardest-working from around the world.

    I spent a couple of years after college as a line cook at some high-end restaurants, and was always impressed by the dishwashers. It’s one of the worst jobs in the restaurant, having to clear leftover food, plunge dishes into hot water, and getting a faceful of steam every few minutes as the sanitizer finishes its cycle. But the Mexican and Bangladeshi immigrants would work 12 hours shifts without complaint, and the Bangladeshis even did it while fasting for the first six hours during Ramadan.

    Now, I work in IT, and I’m similarly impressed by the quality of immigrant professionals. My current project is almost entirely run by people from the Indian subcontinent, with a few east Asian immigrants thrown in.

    I certainly hope our material wealth continues to allow us to comfortably and smoothly integrate these immigrants into our society and culture.

  18. edweirdhopkins says:

    Everything is political. What is great about this is that it isn’t politicized.

  19. Amos Bullington says:

    I’m gonna love seeing those doors!

  20. error4 says:

    Your honesty is why I keep coming back..

Comments are closed.