Login NowClose 
Sign In to thecouriertimes.com           
Forgot Password
or if you have not registered since 8/22/18
Click Here to Create an Account

Doing wonders with wood

1 / 2
Carl Baumann works on a round table in his Mt. Summit shop. The self-taught craftsmanhas a well-rounded background and earned multiplecollege degrees, including one in radio/television/motion pictures from Ball State University. He has written TV commercials and was the voice of “Comfort Carl” years ago.
2 / 2
Carolyn Baumann stands with her husband, Carl, a master craftsman, at their Mt. Summit furniture store called “Cozy Oak.” Baumann builds oak furniture at the site during the week and the store is open Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m.

By DARREL RADFORD - dradford@thecouriertimes.com

Carl Baumann remembers his junior high shop class vividly, even though he was only there for a couple of weeks.

“The teacher came up to me and said ‘you don’t have much talent for this. It seems you’re afraid of the machines and you really don’t have any aptitude for building stuff,’” Baumann recalled from his Indianapolis Public School 65 days.

So, the shop teacher sent Baumann and a classmate to home economics.

Fast-forward several decades, and Baumann is standing in his latest wood-working endeavor – “The Cozy Oak” – a furniture store in Mount Summit where everything for sale is something he made with his own hands. 

While defying the judgment of his junior high shop class teacher, Baumann’s career has literally lived up to his last name. In German, it means “builder.”

“I’ve got 600 years of woodworkers in my family,” he said. “We came here from Germany in 1880. My great-grandfather’s brothers were all house builders in the summer. In the winter, they built furniture. And here this teacher is, telling me I had no aptitude or ability.”

His wife and business partner, Carolyn, said her husband’s choice of professions is much more than defiance. It is like medicine.

“Building furniture for him is really therapeutic,” she said. “He is in such a better mood. He likes pounding wood.”

“It seems to speak to me,” Baumann said of wood.

The Baumanns have been a transformative couple for northern Henry County in more ways than one. Not only have they brought to life an empty business building along U.S. 36 in Mount Summit, they have also turned a former doctor’s office into their home. 

The couple lives in a building across from Blue River Valley High School that once was Dr. Bruce Ippel’s doctor’s office. 

Local residents may remember the Cozy Oak as a former grocery store owned by Raymond Beavers. Over the years it has also been a furniture store, an antiques shop, a carpet outlet, beauty salon and tanning place.

Open for business here since the first week of December, the Cozy Oak offers customers everything from rolltop desks, dining room tables, entertainment centers, storage benches and bathroom vanities, among other items – all made from oak.

The craftsman ability in Baumann seems matched only by his creativity. One of the items he recently made was a rocking chair with a cradle attached, giving a mom or dad an opportunity to place an infant beside them and rock them while giving their hands and arms a break.

A former Indianapolis television anchor knows all about Baumann’s ability to make things.

Clyde Lee, who became a household name and familiar face on evening newscasts at WTHR, Channel 6, from 1976 to 2001, walked into an Indianapolis store Baumann was running several years ago. That store was filled with furniture Baumann had bought from other sources for resale.

Baumann remembered Lee being somewhat frustrated with not being able to find what he was looking for – rustic looking bookcases.

“He came to me and said, ‘I want you to build some bookcases for me to take to my Brown County cabin,’” Baumann remembered. “I told him I wouldn’t know where to start. He said, ‘oh, it’s not that hard. You’re name is Baumann, right? You know what that means in German?’

“So I went out and bought $3,000 worth of machinery to build $600 worth of bookcases,” Baumann laughed. “I made them for him, he was happy and I even went to Brown County to deliver them for him.”

Somewhat poetically, the news of what Baumann did for the well-known newsman spread and led to other custom furniture requests. People wanted him to build gun cabinets, end tables, China hutches and more.

“Then I thought, ‘man, I think I could build those for less than these companies are selling them to me for,’” Baumann said. “It’s a lot more fun than just sitting around in a store waiting for somebody to come in.”

The shop class drop-out proceeded to sell hundreds of furniture items made from his own two hands. His efforts in Mount Summit have created many window gazers and curious onlookers in addition to steady streams of customers when the store is open from noon to 4 p.m. each Saturday

In an era of ready-to-assemble furniture, Baumann believes what he offers is unique and heirloom worthy.

“If you take care of them, anything I make is designed to last hundreds of years,” Baumann said. “There’s nothing here that is going to fall apart if you move it. There’s nothing here that needs to be assembled. There’s nothing here that can’t be refinished if you want to refinish it.

“The ‘ready to assemble’ furniture popular today will not be items a family can hand down from generation to generation,” Baumann added. 

In the spirit of spring, the Baumanns are offering all unfinished furniture in their store at a 50 percent off price. All finished furniture is 20 percent off.

Baumann smiles when remembering his junior high shop class and how one remark he made offended the teacher.

“My dad once told him not to work with machines unless all the safety devices were on,” Baumann said. “Well, this shop teacher had taken off all of safeties and I think I said something. There was nothing to protect our fingers from getting cut off.”

Today, after hundreds of wood furniture creations, Baumann has all of his fingers, and a hundred years from now, the furniture his shop teacher thought him incapable of building will live on for new generations of families.

County couple purchases Mounds Mall

Henry County residents Carl and Carolyn Baumann have purchased the former Mounds Mall in Anderson.

The couple recently announced Baumann RE LLC had made a cash offer to purchase the facility that was officially accepted a few weeks ago.

Carl Baumann, who served in the U.S. Navy, wants to revitalize and reuse the facility for training and employment of veterans. He said there is a potential to create as many as 1,160 new living wage jobs. That training would also be put immediately to use, as another part of the former mall – The Sears building – would be converted to light manufacturing and assembly of new modular auxiliary dwelling units, more commonly known as “granny flats.” They would be sold throughout the Midwest.

Meanwhile, Baumann said the 10-screen Mounds Mall Theater will remain open and the former mall cafeteria would reopen along with the food court with all new equipment and fixtures.

Baumann said the former, empty, General Cinemas building will be demolished and the land used to build single family, modular residences for the married workers and students involved in the project.

Baumann RE LLC also plans to work with Purdue, Ball State, Indiana State and other universities to provide online and in-person college level training in construction project management.