In April 2023, we purchased the Anthe Building at 407 Madison Ave. in Covington, Kentucky, to become our new editorial headquarters and fulfillment center. We are in a multi-year restoration process to clean and preserve the building for future generations.
Here are some of the frequently asked questions about the building and how Lost Art Press will use it now and in the future.
Q: What are the plans for the Anthe Building?
A: The first phase of the project is to restore the first floor of the old factory. The rear of the building will become our fulfillment center, a function that is now handled in Indianapolis. The building’s storefront will become our commercial space – a book and tool store. That will be open by the end of 2023, we hope. The second floor will be restored in 2024 or 2025 to become our editorial offices at the front of the building and long-term storage at the rear. The third floor will be fixed up sometime in the future. We have ideas for how the third floor will be used, but nothing we are prepared to discuss.
In general, we are trying to alter the building as little as possible. The biggest tasks are cleaning the place and remediating any lead paint we might find. There are many partition walls that need to be repaired so they are sturdy. And we need to remove out-of-code electrical stuff, add HVAC to the upstairs floors and make a safe working environment for us.
Q: What will happen to the storefront on Willard Street?
A: The classes and workbenches will stay at Willard Street, as will the mechanical library and my woodworking machines. Lucy and I will continue to live above the storefront until we croak. So basically, Willard Street will look the same and function the same.
Q: How far is the Anthe Building from the storefront on Willard Street?
A: Less than a mile from our shop on Willard Street. I walk it in less than 10 minutes.
Q: Will people still be able to visit the Willard Street storefront to buy books and tools?
A: The Willard Street storefront will remain a commercial space until we have the storefront established at the Anthe Building. After that, all commerce will move to the Anthe Building. This will give Lucy and me a little more privacy, especially during mealtime.
Q: Why did you purchase the Anthe Building?
A: We have always loved the Anthe building and will be its second tenants since the building was built in 1897 as the Anthe Machine Works. Anthe made woodworking tooling and cutters, especially for shapers. The business closed in 2019 and was, at the time, Covington’s second-oldest business. The building is a time capsule with many original features, including the line shaft on the first floor.
Q: There is a gap between the Anthe building and the neighboring building on the third floor. Is the building tilting? Structurally unsound?
A: The building was inspected by a structural engineer in 2023 and they told us not to worry about it. Early on in the life of the building it pulled away from its neighbor a bit. Several metal plates and bars were added to reinforce the area. Many old buildings in this district of Covington have tilted a bit during the last 150 years.
Q: Will you change the storefront?
A: No. The store front has remained almost unchanged since the building was built. The main structure is cast iron, with the original frame-and-panel walls. The trim around the first-floor windows is painted steel. Our plans are to remove excess paint and repaint the storefront in a similar shade of green, hopefully matching the original color. We do have to replace the awning as it is beyond repair. We will eventually repaint the building’s cornice. And we are now planning repairs to the mortar in the brick work. The brick will remain unpainted, which is how the building was original built.
Q: What sort of neighborhood is the Anthe building in?
A: The building is in the city’s Downtown Commercial historic district (Willard Street is in the Mainstrasse district). On our block we have law offices, a pawn shop and a LaRosa’s Pizza. Behind us and across the street are two banks and a former insurance office that is being converted to a large restaurant and distillery. The most exciting part of this area is that we will soon have a new neighborhood behind us. A 23-acre parcel of land that used to be an IRS building is being returned to its original use as a neighborhood with residents and stores. (Read more here.) The Anthe building is located diagonally to Trinity Episcopal Church, where Chris and Lucy were married in 1993. One block away from the Anthe building (at Scott Boulevard and Fourth Street) is the former site of Grote Drugs, one of the drug stores that Lucy’s family ran.
Q: What architectural style is the building?
Q: How can readers help with the restoration?
A: The restoration requires a group of skilled tradespeople all working in concert with one another. And they need to be licensed in order to comply with county and state regulations. As we get into the future phases of the restoration, we might ask for help cleaning up the second and third floors, which can be done by anyone good with a brush and a broom. Mostly, you can help by continuing to buy our books, tools and apparel, which helps us fund the restoration.
Q: What are you going to do about the freight elevator?
A: For now, nothing. We hope to get it certified as a material lift (no passengers) so we can move books to different floors. But that is a future project.
Q: What are you going to do with the old TV antenna at the rear of the building?
A: It stays. Megan has to watch her soap operas – or else she gets grumpy.