Fire Destroys Forging Workshop

March 8, 2010
Historic Wendell August Forge looking to rebuild soon
Wendell August Forge, an artisanal manufacturer in Grove City, PA, was destroyed by a fire on March 6. According to local reports, the fire started in the mid afternoon in a workshop where a worker was lacquering finished bronze pieces. About 40 people, including employees, tourists, and shoppers escaped unharmed. Much of the cinderblock building collapsed in the blaze. “It has been a tough day for this community and our employees. We are so thankful and blessed that no one was hurt," said company president Frank W. "Will" Knecht. Knecht said he was relieved that more than 2,000 steel dies used in the repousse process had been spared, preserved in a vault. Wendell August Forge uses the process to form aluminum, bronze, copper, pewter, stainless steel, and sterling silver into various household, decorative, and ornamental products. "This company is not just a purveyor of goods. We're preserving history, American craftsmanship," he said. He indicated that rebuilding would begin as soon as possible. Wendell August Forge is the only remaining manufacturer of its kind in the United States, according to the company. It is a tourist destination and retail operation as well as a working plant, and the factory is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was established in 1923 and has been at its Grove City location since 1934. It’s said to be the only manufacturer of its kind remaining in the U.S.