A New Building & a New Future for Lost Art Press – Lost Art Press

407 Madison Ave., the new home of Lost Art Press.

When I purchased our storefront here on Willard Street in Covington in 2015, I was certain of two things: 1) It was the final old building that I was going to bring back to life; 2) It would be the final resting place of Lost Art Press.

Until this month, I’ve never given more than 2 seconds of thought about what will happen to this company after John and I die. We’ll be dead, so we won’t care.

But this month, it looks like everything I wrote in the first sentence of this blog entry is incorrect. We have just purchased an old woodworking tool factory at 407 Madison Ave. in downtown Covington. This building housed the Anthe Machine Works, which made woodworking cutters from the time the company started in 1897 until it closed in 2019.

The first floor of the Anthe building behind the office. Note the lineshaft, which powers the elevator.

The building is a time capsule, with few modern improvements. Original floors, mouldings, elevator, windows, lineshaft and (yikes) toilets. It is a gorgeous space that is flooded with light. And it has no modern amenities.

The Anthe building has more than 5,000 square feet of space that is in need of preservation and restoration. And it is big enough that it now helps us see Lost Art Press as a multi-generational enterprise.

This building will allow us to bring our fulfillment operations here to Covington and have room to grow (if we want to). By June, all of our inventory will be on the floor of the Anthe building. And we will be able to mail out orders to customers with the same personal touch we bring to everything else we do.

We are thrilled by all this. But we are also a bit terrified.

In order to buy the building, we agreed to take on debt for the first time in our history. It’s not a huge loan. In fact, we will save money by transferring our inventory to Covington. But it is a debt.

More important is that we have taken on an obligation to this building, which is a historic structure with virtually no alterations. The storefront is all frame-and-panel woodwork surrounded by cast iron. The doors – all original. The trim around the windows? The original Greek key steel trim.

Though the building is in decent shape, it needs an almost endless amount of love. It needs a plan for its sensitive restoration. And it needs a lot of skilled help.

So this is the part of the blog entry where I do something I never wanted to do: show my ass.

The purchase of a huge building is something we’ve never done. And here is the other thing we’ve never done: ask for your help to restore it.

The first stage of restoring the Anthe building is to make the first floor a safe and comfortable working space. Plus maintain humidity levels to protect our books in inventory. That means we need to:

  1. Add HVAC to the first floor (with plans for systems on the other two floors).
  2. Pave the gravel drive to our loading dock to allow us to receive and send shipments.
  3. Provide basic amenities. Offer a working bathroom. Add locks on doors that work. Fix the original stairs. Remove some modern “improvements” to the front office.
  4. Get the freight elevator running.
The gravel drive that allows us to load in and out. This needs to be paved.
The building’s original freight elevator. We love it.

To help pay for these initial projects, we are asking for your help. We have four tiers of support, and each tier offers something useful or beautiful in return. You can purchase any of these tiers in our store now. Links below.

Sparkle Pony Level – $5,000 (six available)

* A special one-week stick chair class in February 2024 here in Covington. This will also be a food tour as all your meals and drinks will be included. Together we’ll each make a stick chair (you’ll get to pick the design) from some premium wood (not bog oak – I don’t have enough; think maple, white oak, walnut). We’ll have nice lunches brought in to the shop. And we’ll go out every night to one of our favorite places in Cincinnati or Covington. Oh, and there will be a Sunday bluegrass night the evening before. The exact date will be decided by the six students, so it is a little flexible.

* Signed copy of “The American Peasant” made out to you when it is released in December

* Invitation to our Opening Day Party in early 2024

Bespokus Level – $600 (100 available)

* One of 100 handmade spell panels, hand engraved, signed and painted by Chris and Megan (shipped immediately)

* Signed copy of “The American Peasant” made out to you when it is released in December

* Invitation to our Opening Day Party in early 2024

Fancy Lad/Lass Level – $350 (125 available)

* One of 125 specially engraved lump hammers featuring the building (shipped immediately)

* Signed copy of “The American Peasant” made out to you when it is released in December

* Invitation to our Opening Day Party in early 2024

Bean the Shop Cat Level – $100

* Signed copy of “The American Peasant” made out to you when it is released in December

* Invitation to our Opening Day Party in early 2024

If you can help, thank you. If you cannot, we totally understand. Simply being a customer of Lost Art Press helps support and sustain our work.

In the coming weeks I’ll write more about the building and our plans for the future of Lost Art Press – beyond this current generation. I can tell you one thing right now: We would sooner give it away than sell it to a venture capital firm.

So if you have children, start feeding them a steady diet of Roy Underhill and Charles Hayward. We might need them here in Covington.

— Christopher Schwarz

The top floor of the Anthe building. Everything is original. And everything needs love.

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