May 29, 2023


Digital Art Community

5 Years on Willard Street
Demolition in the bench room in 2015.

When we purchased this building in 2015, I lost all hope at the closing.

Lucy and I had just finished a final inspection of the place before signing the papers. I looked around at the building, which was 85 percent painted purple and was filled with glitter that was so pervasive that it would soon enter my digestive tract. 

Buying this place, I thought, was a dumb idea. And too much work.

This month marks our fifth anniversary of having our storefront on Willard Street in Covington, Ky. And after five years of hard work and spending tons of money, I’m glad we did it (and so is Lucy, which is important).

The work is far from over. Later this year we plan to demolish the two sketchy bathrooms on the first floor and replace them with one nice bathroom (with a shower) and a small kitchen. And finish up some cosmetic work in the library and bench room.

After that, we’re going to replace the main bathroom on the third floor and then throw some money at the machine room to make it a nicer environment. Then some work on the facade to restore the main window bays to their historical appearance.

Then…. OK, I better stop typing out this list or I’m going to despair again.

Though the work never ends on an old building (this is our third one), we love this street, our neighbors and the city. We walk almost everywhere. Some days I forget where I parked my truck because I haven’t driven it for a week. 

And despite the warnings from readers that I would hate living where I work, the opposite is true. I really like having the shop downstairs. I can cook our meals upstairs while I keep things going in the shop below. And I see my family far more, too. Plus, it’s less stress than maintaining both a residence and a business property – one electric bill, one insurance bill, one water bill.

It’s difficult to complain – until I look up at the rotten plaster under the library window. 

— Christopher Schwarz

The exterior when we first found this building for sale.
The bar’s stage, which we removed and restored. It’s now the entrance to our living quarters.
The bar’s “kitchen,” which is now the office.
The fireplace in what is now the library.
The bar. We removed this (thanks Justin!) and locals took it to make a home bar.