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The Great American Garage


By Randall S. Louis

The Barn was the most prominent of fixtures across the entire countryside of America before the automobile was ever invented. These fabulous buildings were usually designed with wide double doors or sliding doors to allow for barn implements and livestock to be driven in and out. There was also a proverbial loft that would accommodate much needed storage. Most of these large structures were built before the turn of the century. The barn was also used for large family and community gatherings. Friends and neighbors would gather together around a small band of talented musicians, sounding off in a melodious harmony. The general public of the time would call it a hoe-down, a Barn Dance, or a Shindig. These large, commodious Barns were also used as the first EBay where people would gather for auctions of farm implements, livestock, grain and household goods. These “accessory” buildings have all but vanished from around the countryside, the era of The Barn has given way to The Great American Garage.

The detached garage is quite a versatile structure offering the best place to put a full scale workshop, studio, home office and or guest house.

For people with the urge to build but without eating into an enormous budget the garage is an opportunity to construct something smaller than a house but bigger than a shed, and can hold things the house or the shed can’t or shouldn’t.

Walt Disney in 1923 set up shop in his uncle’s garage for rent of $1.00 a month. Retired janitor, James Hampton, rented a garage to construct an elaborate Throne. In a Washington, D.C. garage, James Hampton, a non- descript janitor by trade, started work on the Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly. Built entirely out of discarded objects, this 180 piece sculpture was discovered after James' death in 1964. Considered by some to be one of the finest examples of American visionary religious art, the Throne resides at the Smithsonian; from which he dedicated to the heavens, and the contents of the garage are now part of the Smithsonian institute. Thomas Moser, had a tinkerer’s dream, his business Thomas Moser is a builder of quality hand crafted furniture world wide. The Great American Garage

Tinkerer - Brief Article

The year was 1958 and John Bean was 21 when he joined the Monrovia (Calif.) Police Department. At the time, 6" Smith & Wesson Model 10s were the norm, many riding in swivel holsters with simple safety straps. The street cops were in dire need of some new duty holster ideas and saw them riding on John's hip.

Soon there was much "Make me one like that" going on and John found himself in what was more than a hobby it was a business. He decided to start a mail order business and for the grand sum of five cents (cash) you could get a one page flyer.

His first actual advertisement in Gun World magazine cost the princely sum of $38. It took a serious family meeting to decide to spend that much on such a chancy thing. That chancy thing turned rock solid as the orders flooded the little garage workshop. John was in the holster business in a serious way.

John's attention to innovative design attracted customers from a wide cross-section of the world. Military, hunters, police, target shooters and anyone who had a need to tote iron looked up the small shop in Monrovia, Calif.

How can we understand the American love affair with their home, car and garage?

The garage, once a humble, inconspicuous space, has become the latest industry battleground for builders and architects alike. Just as the car has become the latest symbol of competitive affluence in American culture, The Great American Garage has become the symbol of home owning and home building. To understand just how overwhelming this phenomenon is, let's examine the numbers. In one generation, the average family size has decreased 20 percent while our homes have grown by a whopping 50 percent. Homes with one and two car garages are giving way to the three car garage and more.

Since the early 1990s, the trend toward larger garages is well ensconced in the construction of new homes throughout the USA. Many existing neighborhoods with lot sizes large enough to accommodate garage expansion are popping up frequently. Super-sized garages of today nearly rival the size of homes built in the 1950s. Today, behemoth garages are tailored to fit the ubiquitous SUVs, boats, snowmobiles, collector cars, and any number of bicycles a family might possess. Beyond vehicular storage, the amount of possessions tends to increase each year. The garage was very often the last place to be recognized as a space you can decorate. Indoors and out our houses are decorated with state-of-the-art updates even patios have outdoor kitchens and stylish stone underfoot. The garage is one of the highest traffic areas of your home, so adding the same style there increases square footage and value to your property.
See Super Garages

No longer just a place to store your junk, the garage has become a place to spend time and many are even heated. Freezer and pantry shelves make it an extension of the kitchen; furniture, sound system and TV make it a great place for watching football or a kids’ play area when they can’t play outside.
We also are actually having fun in our garages. For all of you that love cars see Jay Leno’s Garage.

Where there are garages there are garage bands. The same impulse that leads inventors and tinkerers to privacy seclusion and convenience calls musicians just as it did in the eighteen hundreds and I’m sure there was an original Garage band that created some of the greatest hits of the nineteen fifties The garage where Buddy Holly once practiced, is still standing in his honor Lubbock Texas. Around the country Bands like Nirvana, Soul Asylum, The Beatles, Credence Clearwater and the Kinks all claim to a have started out in someone’s garage. Andrew Calhoun a jazz guitarist dedicated a song and an entire album to the American garage

Wherever there is a proto type an invention or a vision it usually finds its way to The Great American Garage. The garage seems to inspire inventions and elevates itself to a romantic realm; which is my purpose. A lot of people with startup ideas feel the same way.

The garage is an essential part of the corporate origin somewhat like a politician being born in a log cabin. A company that starts in a garage lends itself to corporate grit, homespun roots in a humble way. The Barn of the last century and the early part of this century has given way to The Great American Garage which has become the workplace of American ingenuity. The Silicon Valley when David Packard rented a garage at 367 Edison avenue the likes Steve jobs of Apple Computer, Walt Disney, Medtronic’s all started in garages.

We might ask ourselves what is the reason that so much happens in a garage? The garage usually comes with the lowest rent. Also the garage is nearest our home. More than $400,000,000.00 in venture capital has helped entrepreneurs, refine their businesses. The Great American Garage is the spirit of American enterprise.

In 1917 the Model T measured about a 6 and half feet bumper to bumper. Fifty years later if you tried to put a Cadillac Escalade in the same garage the last 8 feet would not fit. The suburban streetscapes of my childhood are not the same as the beautiful suburban landscapes of today. The attached garages of today function as an entrance to the home which match and complement the character and proportion of the home. Where the beautiful detached garages of yesterday were usually and are still most often at the back of the lots with alley entries or attached to a long side driveway again a distance from the home. Suburban developments often put the garage in front of the house. This creates streetscapes composed primarily of garages as opposed to the alleys of yesterday.

The typical garage of the early twentieth century was a mere one car garage. Families worked lived in and contained themselves to their community rarely venturing far, unless it was a vacation; at this time everyone would get into the family car for a week of rest and relaxation. Women enter the workforce teenagers gained unprecedented amount of freedom and access to the family car. By the year 2000 three car garages seem to be the precedent.

Not only is there a need for space that holds more vehicles and larger vehicles but a desire for storage of the garages becomes bays of multiple functions.

Bill Gates of Microsoft has a garage measuring 44,000 square feet that holds more than 75 cars underground and doubles as a ballroom. Many of these garages are actually bigger than the stables at Versailles which could hold 200 coaches and 2000 horses.

Even average people have homes with four or more garage bays. In urban areas such as the Gold Coast of Chicago the garages have living quarters above and turntables that would allow the vehicles of its date to travel down a narrow pathway and enter the garage. Many garages; also would have its own fuel source. The garage has been and always will be an extension of our homes.

How does one explore the home? Go in through the garage, of course. Sales, bands, and business startups: The Great American Garage is the most culturally flexible space in the entire American domestic environment. In this flexibility, it stands opposed to many of the established notions of domestic context. It is illustrative of the displayed, hidden, and forgotten wonders of the American home.

Within the context of this thesis, established interpretations of The Great American Garage are used in the form of metaphor and hyperbole to create differing typologies of the modern American home and The Great American Garage. The metaphors themselves have developed out of a very dense genealogy of American life style, histories and trajectories. The Great American Garage has a real history, just as The Great American Garage occupies a very real extant condition of the daily modern life. The modern house typologies march toward the space of the surreal via the narratives that accompany each of them, allowing for an exploration into the existing domestic condition as well as a feverish and jocular critique of some of yesterdays and today’s modern ways of life. The attempt of this article is to take on the exploration of The Great American Garage, using the very stereotypes and clichés that have come to define it.

Your browser may not support display of this image.According to Randall S. Louis President of Garage King Inc, “Garage King ", a premier Building Contractor who has designed and built over 5,000 garages, headquartered in Glenview Illinois. Mr. Louis has an extensive educational background he handles insurance claims and is a State of Illinois licensed Insurance Broker and an independent adjuster. He is an Illinois Licensed Mortgage Broker and Illinois Licensed Roofing Contractor, and for the purposes of demolition holds a Building Inspectors Asbestos Licensed with the Illinois Department of Public Health, Mr. Louis states The Great American Barn, has given way to The Great American Garage. “Garage King”, builds all size garages through out seven counties and in all Chicago Land communities “Garage King” specializes in Custom Garages and Custom flooring and interiors for your Garage, for the new era of The Great American Garage Royal Inc., Specializing in Replacement Windows, Siding, Roofing, Gutters Soffit, Fascia, Kitchens and more. Call Randall; where all your dreams come true. Toll free 24/7 at 1(800) 883-3133 or visit us at www.Garageking.com.