Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Forge door

Brown's Forge at 130 South Randolph St., quiet on a Sunday afternoon.

Owned and run by the Brown family for almost 150 years (they are said to have shod Robert E. Lee's famous horse, Traveller), the forge is now operated by blacksmith Jack Chaffee.

I found the following, written by Chaffee, in the March 2007 issue of The Virginian, the newsletter of the Blacksmith Guild of Virginia, online here:

“The goal of BROWN'S FORGE LIVING HISTORY MUSEUM is to keep the feeling of a small town smithy at about the turn of the last century. The Shop was established about 1856 and the present building was erected in 1915. From about 1865 to around 1900 it was a carriage-building Shop and there are many dies and sets used to create the fittings typical of carriages of those days. Gradually as gasoline power replaced the horse the Shop converted to repair of automobiles and did a brisk business in that regard up 'til the 50's. But as automotive technology changed the owners chose not to invest in the technology required and the Shop reverted back to being a smithy and repair shop. Now, it is primarily a smithy for architectural iron and secondarily a repair/restoration shop for tools, utensils, and broken cast iron items. Our specialty in that line is the repair and sharpening of the push reel-type lawn mowers. We have the only reel mower sharpening machine (1943) in operation within a 60 mile radius.”

I expect this sign offers an example of Chaffee's work:

Perhaps I will be able to post a photo of Mr. Chaffee in action one of these days.

10 comments:

Julie said...

I love this sort of informative post, MK. I would enjoy seeing the man himself. I admire people who keep up the trades of yesteryear.

Clueless in boston said...

Great info. It must be a destination for civil war buffs and those who like the old trades. A shot of the smitty would be great

Mo said...

Wow does he still shoe horses.

Babooshka said...

Interesting and well written.

JM said...

Love hanging signs, this is really nice.

Peter said...

I would really like to se Mr. Chaffee at work!

Marc said...

Great to have authentic shops like this, based on real craftsmanship around. Nice pics and background.

D said...

yes, please show us Mr. Chaffee working some day soon!

lisasarsfield said...

Very interesting, this history is much older than anything I know of here. Thanks for sharing:)

Paul said...

Hi
I guess if it was not for horses there would not be many blacksmiths around, I have not seen one at work in many years. Be nice if you could photograph Mr. Chaffee at his work.