Talk of the Town - Shop talk November 20 2002

Garage-living behind a Midtown bungalow

Wives often complain
that their hubbies spend far too much time in the garage. And if Greg Fenn were married, his wife would have true cause to carp. Fenn lives in what was once a 1920s-era garage behind his Tudor-style bungalow in Midtown. Now his one-room bachelor "shed" is set up as a design studio/workshop/brewery complete with a 32-gallon, double-walled, stainless steel beer-brewing vessel that almost blocks the front door. Fenn contemplated tearing the shed down, but opted against it out of sentimental attachment.

CL: Is that house outside yours?

Fenn: Yes, I rent it out and live here. I've been doing it for about six years. I'm not really sure if that's how long I've been out here; I've lost track of time. I bought the house in 1977, lived in it for a while, remodeled, and now I let out the space for a steady monthly income. It leaves me the option to loaf.

Do you have a job?

I'm a jack-of-all-trades really — mostly carpentry work. I do some landscape architecture on the side, too.

Did you build that fishpond out there?

Yeah. It was in a tour once — one on fishponds in Atlanta.

Man, they've got a tour for everything, huh?

Yep. Touring the Big River Brewing Company with my brother in Chattanooga got me into brewing beer. I don't know if you noticed that pit over there in the bathroom.

Bathroom? I didn't see a toilet in here.

I'm not that primitive. The john's kind of hidden — allows for a little privacy. I dug out this pit when I got into beer brewing. It helps with the process. Since I don't have a lot of headroom in here and brewing is a process that depends on gravity, I had to go down in the ground to get good results.

Any special "Fenn" brews?

Well, all of them are unique, but modeled after the best on the market. I've got a good stout similar to Guinness.

How do you cook here?

I've got that antique Griswold cast-iron gas range outfit over there. I found that in a friend's basement.

Where do you sleep?

That twin mattress over there leaned against the wall.

Do you have a girlfriend? Not to be offensive, but this style of living must inhibit your social life.

I had a girlfriend who really liked it out here. She was actually upset when I moved back into the house for a while. She thought it was more romantic out here. We almost tied the knot.

Too much of a bachelor for her?

I guess so.

What's that glass enclosure over there?

The habitat I built for my Mexican Kingsnake, Harley. I got him when one of my neighbors called and told me her dog had cornered a 5-foot snake. I don't know what got into me. Even though he looked like a coral snake, I just reached down and picked him up — thinking that, if he was violent, I'd just throw him on her son. [Fenn chuckles.] He was friendly though. The worse he ever did was crap on my hand. I gave him up for adoption. ??