new public art at lowell’s

In early October, local art group PRHBTN sponsored six new street art murals around Lexington.

One of the biggest new murals is right next to Lowell’s! We can see this huge, beautiful art from our front door, and we chronicled artists Yu-baba and Key Detail as they painted.

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We think that this new mural is part of what makes Lexington and our North Lime neighborhood such a great and unique place to live and work. Come down to lowell’s to see it!


north lime

This month, we’re updating our logo, our colors, and our design.

You’ll see these new colors, logo, and design first on our emails, website, and buildings (which are freshly painted), and we’ll continue to roll out the new design throughout all of our materials in the coming weeks.

One new element of the design is the ‘north lime’ designation which goes along with our logo. We are proud to be part of Lexington’s resurgent North Limestone neighborhood, and we wanted to celebrate that in our logo.

North Lime is where we work every day. It’s where we get to see you. We’ve been here for 37 years, and this neighborhood is in our blood.

We’re still here at 111 Mechanic Street, in the heart of North Lime. And we can’t wait to see you here soon!

uncovering a bit of our history

As we peeled away some sixty to seventy years of paint, we started to make out faint outlines of block letters underneath all of those layers.

At first, all we could see was ‘ETE  HOME  F’. Then, below that, we could make out ‘LEXINGTON – DANVILLE’. At the top of the building, we could start to see ‘H & G’.

We were hooked. We wanted to know what was here before.


We’ve often wondered about the origins of our buildings here on Mechanic Street. We’ve known that our main building was built in 1949, but we didn’t know what kind of building it was.

That changed as we prepared to paint our building this year.

As we scraped away more paint, we could find more clues, but the clues were never very clear. Eventually, it started to look like ‘H & G COMPLETE HOME FURNI’, and we were pretty sure we were dealing with some sort of furniture store. That seemed a little odd, given the structure of our building, but maybe our building was just a warehouse for the store.

Finally, with most of the paint removed, the top line looked a lot less like ‘H & G’ and much more like ‘BAUGH & GARNER’.

Baugh & Garner Building, 1932
Baugh & Garner Delivery Truck, 1933
Baugh & Garner, 1921
Lowell's Paint Removal
Lowell's Paint Removal Detail
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Several internet searches (mainly, the great historical images at the University of Kentucky’s ExploreUK) confirmed that our building was part of Baugh & Garner Incorporated, a furniture store on the corner of North Limestone and Mechanic Streets. The four-story building for the store was built in 1922, and our building at 111 Mechanic Street was built a quarter-century later as a warehouse for the store.

We can’t find any contemporaneous pictures of our building when it was part of the store, but we do have some good pictures of the store itself from 1921, 1932, and 1933.

We’d love to know more about Baugh and Garner – when it started, who ran it, when it went out of business, when the old building was torn down, etc.  If you can share any additional details, please let us know!




Lowell’s Supports the Carnegie Center

In any thriving community, there are some organizations which create lasting positive change. Our neighbors at the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning do that for Lexington.

Carnegie CenterJust a block from Lowell’s in Gratz Park, The Carnegie Center weaves together a unique set of programs to make Lexington a better, more educated, more literate place.

For example, the Carnegie Center is working to establish Lexington as a nationally- and regionally-recognized center for literature.

As part of that effort, the Center offers writing and publishing workshops and conferences for budding authors – helping new writers learn the process of starting, completing, and publishing their works.

And these workshops are not just theoretical exercises: they include insights directly from literary agents and excellent local and regional writers, including Barbara Kingsolver, Nikky Finney, and Bobbie Ann Mason. New writers get to learn from experienced ones.


Beyond writing, the Carnegie Center also offers adult workshops in such diverse topics as GRE preparation, yoga, computer use, bookbinding, entrepreneurship, Spanish, French, English as a second language, and blogging.

Most of these courses are very reasonably priced, and many are offered for free.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the Carnegie Center is what they do for children.  This includes reading groups and book clubs for kids as young as 2 years old, and progresses into reading, writing, math, and Spanish classes for elementary school students. For middle school students, the Carnegie Center also offers classes in writing, computer-based art, and poetry.

Not only does the Carnegie Center help adult writers – they are also nurturing Lexington’s next generation of writers and readers.

At Lowell’s, we are especially big fans of Carnegie’s award-winning K-12 tutoring programs. These include one-on-one tutoring for over 180 students each week during the school year. Volunteers work with each student to help develop their reading, writing, and math proficiency. The program is so popular that all 180 spots were filled only minutes after the Center began accepting reservations.

Because the one-on-one tutoring program fills so soon, the Center also offers the Carnegie Club – after-school tutoring in small groups – and an additional summer tutoring program.

Even better? Most of the Carnegie Center’s classes for kids are free, and the tutoring programs are $50 or less.

With these (and many other) programs, the Carnegie Center is creating a new “Cycle of Literacy” – smarter kids, smarter adults, smarter writers – which creates new opportunities for individuals and substantial benefits for our entire community.  We are fortunate to have them here.

Lowell’s is proud to support the Carnegie Center and its one-on-one tutoring program. We believe that smarter kids make a better Lexington.

And we love a better Lexington.

Fighting Breast Cancer

Shevawn and Hayden Shevawn is our friend, our customer, and a great single mom to a great son.  She is also an active and vocal contributor to our community.  She is smart, beautiful, and tough.

And Shevawn is fighting breast cancer.

She has been sharing her brave, raw, and moving story at Forever Changed ever since her initial diagnosis in June.  Over the past four months, she has chronicled the awfulness and initial shocks of that diagnosis, her subsequent biopsy, her recently-completed chemotherapy, and her traumatic hair loss.  She is due to begin radiation treatments later this month.

Forever Changed is Shevawn’s very personal account of her cancer experience.  It is also inspiring.  We encourage you to go read her story and to share your support with her.

Shevawn will turn 38 on October 15th – the same day as the Susan G. Komen “Race for the Cure” in Lexington.

We’re celebrating with Shevawn by supporting her “Shine On” race team to help find a cure for this awful disease.  Please join us in supporting the search for a cure.  If you’re interested, you can start with the links below:

Forever Changed

Shevawn’s Race for the Cure Page – Shine On

Susan G. Komen Foundation, Lexington

Lowell’s Joins Local First Lexington

Here at Lowell’s, we have long supported buying goods and services from small, local businesses to spur Lexington’s economic development.

We believe that buying from local businesses keeps more of Lexington’s money at home – helping to create jobs and greater opportunity here.  (See more of our rationale in our “Local First” post.)

LFL So – in a long-overdue step – we are pleased to announce that Lowell’s has now joined Local First Lexington.

So… what is Local First Lexington?

Local First Lexington is an alliance of nearly 200 independent, Lexington-owned businesses, aimed at celebrating and promoting buying locally-produced products.

If you’re interested in buying more local goods and services, please visit LFL’s directory of great local businesses.


Small Business Saturday

It should come as no surprise to our regular readers that Lowell’s supports small local businesses.

Local businesses reinvest in our community’s economy.  Small businesses create most of our nation’s jobs.  We have frequently promoted many of the small businesses you can visit in our thriving North Limestone neighborhood.

Sbs_logo_295px So we really like the idea of declaring the Saturday after Thanksgiving (November 27th) as “Small Business Saturday“.

Small Business Saturday is a day to patronize small local businesses for holiday shopping needs (which distinguishes it from cousins “Black Friday” on November 26th and “Cyber Monday” on November 29th).

The initiative is nominally sponsored by American Express, but Small Business Saturday has taken on a decidedly grassroots form, with many small businesses seizing upon the opportunity to appeal to local customers.

Small Business Saturday won’t make or break local businesses, and it shouldn’t substitute for patronizing great independent businesses on an ongoing basis (such as outlined in The 3/50 Project). But it is a great way to celebrate the many small businesses which help grow the local economy.

While Lowell’s will be closed on Small Business Saturday, we encourage our friends and customers to use the day to buy the things that they need from the small local businesses that they love.


Need some ideas for great local businesses in Lexington?  Take a look at business listings at Local First Lexington and Kentucky Proud for some great ideas.

Stop Breast Cancer for Life

Lifetime 2010October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Lowell’s has been working with Lifetime Television and Insight Media to support Lifetime’s “Stop Breast Cancer for Life” campaign. You may have already seen our joint ads (below) with Lifetime on Insight cable.

We also support local efforts to find the cure. For every vehicle we see in October, we’ll donate $1 to Komen Lexington (the Lexington affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure).

We encourage everyone to become familiar with common risk factors for breast cancer and to learn what you can do to help prevent it.

Lowell’s Sponsors Trailapalooza

In its early days, Lexington was built along the Middle Fork of South Elkhorn Creek, which was eventually known as Town Fork or, more commonly today, Town Branch.  Lexington’s early streets were oriented along the banks of this stream.

Mcconnell-springs If you don’t remember a stream in downtown Lexington, you’re not alone. Much of what was Town Branch is now buried under present-day Vine Street. Running underground along Vine Street and under the Lexington Center, Town Branch re-emerges in the Cox Street parking lot, and meanders along Manchester Street and Leestown Road.  This area includes some of Lexington’s most historic sites, such as McConnell Springs.

Town Branch Trail, Inc. has been leading the efforts to build a greenway and urban trail along this historic corridor.  Town Branch Trail recently completed its second phase of construction, with nearly two miles of completed trail for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Lowell’s is pleased to support these efforts.  We think that initiatives like Town Branch Trail are an important part of making Lexington even more attractive and livable.  So we are one of the sponsors of Trailapalooza, a festival along Town Branch Trail on Sunday, August 15th from 1 to 5 PM.

The Big Maracas and the inimitable March Madness Marching Band will be entertaining.  And PRESTO, the People-Powered Pianobike (which we are pleased to keep here at Lowell’s), will be there as well.  On top of that, we’ll have games and prizes, too.

Trailapalooza promises to be great fun for all ages.  Lowell’s encourages our friends and customers to come celebrate and support Town Branch Trail at Trailapalooza on August 15th.

Visit Trailapalooza to get all of the details.

“What is that thing?!?”

Lowell’s customers and pedestrians on Mechanic Street have noticed that we have a strange vehicle in our garage which is most definitely not a Toyota.

Some folks giggle when they see it.  Some just shake their heads.  Most smile.  Everyone wants to know, “What is that thing?!?”

It is a wildly-colorful, whimsical, bicycle-powered, musical, and Seuss-ical contraption known as “PRESTO: The People-Powered Pianobike”.

Prestoside3What’s a people-powered pianobike?  It is pulled by two bikes.  It is powered by a third bike.  It is an electronic keyboard with amp.  It is a community work of art utilizing recycled materials and musical instruments.  It is a celebration of music, fitness, recycling, and fun.  And we keep it here at Lowell’s.

PRESTO is the brainchild of Debra Hensley (that’s her on the right) of Debra’s Social $timulus, and it will be making appearances at public events all over Lexington.

On Memorial Day, PRESTO led 3,000 bicyclists through downtown Lexington for Bike Lexington‘s Family Fun Ride.

In conjunction with Debra’s Social $timulus, Lowell’s is storing PRESTO here at the shop.  We’ve already had several passersby interact with PRESTO, including a swarm of kids honking PRESTO’s many horns.

We think PRESTO is a lot of fun.  If you come by the shop, be sure to look it over.  And smile.