Jeff Schorr is the founder of Craftsman House Gallery, located in the Grand Central districtll of St. Pete’s Historic Kenwood neighborhood. Craftsman House sells handcrafted decor and art from nearly 300 American artists, housed in the 1918 Arts and Crafts-style bungalow that served as the original model home for the Kenwood development.
But Craftsman House isn’t just a gallery – Schorr says his real goal is to create community, so when he founded Craftsman House ten years ago, he made a café part of the plan. And once or twice a month he brings in big-name folkies and singer-songwriters to perform in the gallery space – including everyone from Janis Ian to Tom Paxton to Marty Balin of Jefferson Airplane.
Before starting the Craftsman House, Schorr did a lot of work in the clothing industry. He helped start both Grenade Snowboard Gloves, and Tony Hawk’s personal clothing line. Snowboard and skate clothes might not be what you’d expect from a guy now running a serene craft-art gallery, but his attunement to the power of image and quality have carried over as he’s mellowed out.
For Schorr, t-shirts are about getting the word out, and to do that, they have to be comfortable. “My philosophy is, put it on the best quality t-shirt you can find, otherwise nobody’s going to want to wear it, no matter what the design.”
He used buttery-soft top-tier cotton shirts to create his Craftsman House Gallery t-shirts (sold here on St. Pete Threads), and it’s paid off. Every musician who comes through Craftsman House gets one of the shirts, and they’re so comfortable they can’t help wearing them – which is why the Craftsman House name has been seen on stages across the country, including at the Newport Folk Festival.
In addition to founding his own gallery, Jeff has done tons of work on the ground to improve conditions for artists in St. Pete. This includes the grueling, four-year process of getting Artists Enclave designation for Historic Kenwood, which allows artists to post signage in front of their residences, sell art from their homes at certain times, and gives the neighborhood special flexibility on quarterly events.
And he’s been amazed at the change he’s seen in St. Pete in the decade since he founded Craftsman. Across the Grand Central district there’s been the arrival projects like the Painting with Fire workshop and Grand Central Stained Glass. And though Craftsman House was a bit lonely for a while, way out on the 2900 block of Central, the block has recently welcomed the new Engine Rose restaurant, PomPoms sandwich shop, and a midcentury antique shop on the same block. All, no doubt, in part a return on his own hard work.