Schwartz always looked for good in restoration projects
When local restoration expert Amos Schwartz looked over a building as a potential project, he always said that he looked for the good, not the bad in his potential search.
“When I go into a barn or an old building, I always try to look for the good in that building, not the bad,” Schwartz had said. “The bad we can fix but we want the building to be known as ‘good.’”
This past Sunday, Schwartz finally reached beyond a long battle with cancer when he passed away surrounded by the love of family members. Schwartz was in his beloved rural Geneva home at the time.
“’Positive thinking, that’s what you’ve gotta have. I can’t just sit here, gotta keep working,’” family members quoted Schwartz as saying in the memorial leaflet commemorating Schwartz in the lobby at the Berne Evangelical Church.
“And work he did, until the end. Undoubtedly the mansions of heaven will be remodeled and refurbished by Amos’ capable hands,” noted family members in the tribute. “His craftsmanship, evident in his many buildings, bridges and projects is surpassed only by his loving concern for his fellow man.
“His legacy will live on through the people he touched in his work and his generations of children and grandchildren. May we all remember that loving spirit that is Amos B. Schwartz,” noted the tribute.
In the lobby leading into the sanctuary of the church, there are tables with displays of tools, the Family Record of Johannes and Barbara (Kaufman) Ramseyer, an Outdoor Indiana magazine featuring Schwartz and his contributions to Swiss Heritage Village and many restorations dear to his heart such as the Roann Covered Bridge, bridges, mills, round barns and the Normandy Barn rebuilt by Schwartz and moved to the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
Other pictures show such historical shrines as the restored Miami Indian Schoolhouse, another art creation of Schwartz’s creative carpentry.
After a period of time working as a self-employed carpenter, Schwartz established the Rainbow Construction Company; in addition he worked with his family at Limberlost Construction.
Schwartz’s involvement in various benevolent efforts is endless, but he is best known for restoring covered bridges, old barns and other historic structures.
Among his active involvement sources, Schwartz was affiliated with the Historic Landmark Foundation of Indiana, Indiana State Fair Pioneer Village, Limberlost Land Association, Mennonite Disaster Service, Swiss Heritage Society of Berne, the Berne Rotary Club and the Evangelical Church.
Schwartz’s son, Mike, reflected on his dad in a talk at Berne Rotary Club, concerning a time when they were asked to build a boat.
“I said to him, ‘dad, are you sure that you know what you are doing, we don’t know how to build a boat,” observed Mike at the time. “Dad said, ‘were okay, I read ‘da’ book.’ I said, ‘what book’ and he said, ‘dat book,’ referring to the Bible and Noah’s ark.”
During his lifetime, Schwartz loved to tell the story of how he used to stay with famed restaurant owner Bob Evans when he was working in that part of Ohio.
When Schwartz was appointed to the prestigious Indiana Historic Landmarks Foundation, Marsh Davis, director of the statewide foundation had said, “We wanted Amos on this committee because of his work in historic preservations and because he’s a real humanitarian. I’ve worked with Amos for many years. I’ve seen him in barn preservation and in restoring covered bridges.”
Other projects that Schwartz was especially proud of was that of Judy O’Bannon (wife of the late Frank O’Bannon, former governor of Indiana) where he was asked to assist in restoring her home in New Corydon.
Schwartz credited his mother’s love for people to his love for both people and restoration. He said that when his mother looked at an individual, she always looked at the good in that individual rather than the bad.
By the mid-1960s, his reputation for fine restoration work soon became known on a statewide basis. He was soon restoring buildings for the Department of Natural Resources in such well known sites at Metamora, Madison, New Harmony, Potato Creek and Corydon.
“This has all been an interesting ride, “Schwartz had said. “A combination of my Amish background and Swiss background has given me a real love for restoring old buildings to the way that they originally looked.
“Hard work has been a part of my background. My sister and I peddled vegetables in a buggy when I was 13 years old. It’s really been a good trip.
“Many times you would get beyond the point of no return in a project, and there wasn’t enough money to restore. But you kept on going because of the pride and love you felt in the completed restoration,” Schwartz said.
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