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The original Wendell August Forge facility was a historic landmark in Mercer County, Pennsylvania. It is the last remaining working forge in the state. The company operates retail stores in Grove City, Berlin, Ohio and Wilmington, North Carolina;[2] the forge and the stores are well-known tourist destinations.[3][4] Wendell August was the first to use the repoussé process of manufacture, and has operated near Grove City since 1932. It produces a variety of merchandise, including Americana,[5] such as bowls, figurines and ornaments, as well as commemorative items.[6]

Wendell August Forge
Wendell August Forge site.jpg
Site of the original forge building
Wendell August Forge is located in Pennsylvania
Wendell August Forge
Wendell August Forge is located in the United States
Wendell August Forge
Location620 Madison St., Grove City, Pennsylvania
Coordinates41°9′58″N 80°4′34″W / 41.16611°N 80.07611°W / 41.16611; -80.07611Coordinates: 41°9′58″N 80°4′34″W / 41.16611°N 80.07611°W / 41.16611; -80.07611
Area1.8 acres (0.73 ha)
Built1932
Architectunknown
NRHP reference #96001192[1]
Added to NRHPNovember 07, 1996
Wendell August Forge
Headquarters2074 Leesburg Grove City Rd., Mercer, Pennsylvania

When it was built in 1932, the forge was a simple one-story rectangular building measuring approximately 60 feet (18 m) by 160 feet (49 m); its frame was steel, constructed on a foundation of poured concrete. That property was located in a primarily residential neighborhood.[7]

2010 fireEdit

The historic facility was destroyed by a fire on March 6, 2010[6] started by a spark from an electric ventilation fan. The fire moved rapidly throughout the structure, pressing almost two dozen local firefighters into service.

While the building itself was a total loss, firefighters knew where the dies that were most crucial to the forge's regular operation were held and worked to keep flames away from that part of the building, and were able to save the majority of them.

Prior to the fire, Wendell August Forge had just completed a deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins, which had been the biggest purchase in the forge's history. The deal was to produce souvenir tickets for the NHL team's final home game at Mellon Arena before it would be demolished to make way for its successor, CONSOL Energy Center. Team owner Mario Lemieux offered to advance some of the money to the forge prior to the order's completion and after being assured that the order would be filled without a problem.[8]

The forge was operating from temporary locations within five days with little disruption in service. For the next three years, factory and office operations were located at the old Cooper-Bessemer plant in Grove City with a temporary retail outlet at the nearby Slovak Folk Crafts.

Wendell August Forge was grandfathered under subsequent zoning changes made in the borough of Grove City since it first opened. It could only be rebuilt if it complied with the current zoning regulations which was not feasible With the help of a state grant of $4 million, the forge relocated to a new location in a substantially larger facility and increased its workforce from 70 to 120.

On October 9th, 2013, Wendell August opened its new flagship store, factory and headquarters at 2074 Leesburg-Grove City Rd, 1/2 mile west of the Grove City Premium Outlets in Springfield Township, Mercer County, Pennsylvania.[9] The new 52,000 square foot facility includes a history center and offers tours of the factory.

The company pioneered the production of hammered aluminum giftware, which it first produced in 1930.[10]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
  2. ^ Gurvis, Sandra (2004). Day Trips from Columbus, 2nd: Getaways About Two Hours Away. Globe Pequot. p. 44. ISBN 978-0-7627-2973-9. Retrieved 7 March 2010.
  3. ^ O'Toole, Christine (2007). Pennsylvania Off the Beaten Path: A Guide to Unique Places (9 ed.). Globe Pequot. p. 75. ISBN 978-0-7627-4209-7. Retrieved 7 March 2010.
  4. ^ Oberlin, Loriann Hoff; Jenn Phillips; Evan M. Pattak; Michele Margittai (2008). Insiders' Guide to Pittsburgh (4 ed.). Globe Pequot. p. 146. ISBN 978-0-7627-4796-2. Retrieved 7 March 2010.
  5. ^ Slater, Tom (2007). Heritage Slater Political and Americana Auction #659. Heritage Capital. p. 13. ISBN 978-1-59967-116-1. Retrieved 7 March 2010.
  6. ^ a b "Landmark metal forge burns in Mercer County". old.post-gazette.com. Retrieved Jul 12, 2019.
  7. ^ Rogers, Rebecca M. National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Wendell August Forge. National Park Service, 1996-07-10, 7.
  8. ^ "At Wendell August Forge, fire proves to be the crucible of reinvention". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved Jul 12, 2019.
  9. ^ Stevens, Glenn. "Wendell August Forge opens new headquarters in Grove City". www.wfmj.com. Retrieved Jul 12, 2019.
  10. ^ Paul, Larry R. (2005). Made in the twentieth century: a guide to contemporary collectibles. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-8108-4563-3. Retrieved 7 March 2010.

External linksEdit