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Information regarding and history of the Blacksmith Shop, our home base.
The Blacksmith Shop was built in 1877 by a group of stone masons in just eight days. Legend has it that they were inspired by a keg of cold beer that awaited the completion of the task.
The shop was owned and operated at that time by William F. Neebling, who sold it to Theodore Morschheuser in 1909. John Schneider became an apprentice to Morschheuser in 1911, and in 1922, Mr. Schneider continued the practice of making and repairing wagons, wheels, and related items made from hammered steel. He also shoed horses to supplement his income. John Schneider owned the Blacksmith Shop until his death in 1952.
The Blacksmith Shop then stood idle for many years, until it was purchased by Manchester real estate developer, Don Limpert, in 1977. A great deal of restoration work was done on the Blacksmith Shop by Mr. Limpert, including careful reconstructive brick work on the only remaining center forge to keep it original and sound.
The Blacksmith Shop, one of Michigan's last intact Main Street blacksmith shops, was purchased by the Manchester Area Historical Society in 1982 for $24,743. Thanks to an earlier agreement between Mr. Limpert and the Schneider family, all the blacksmith tools left in the shop were donated to the Society. These tools have been officially retired by the current blacksmiths.
The Blacksmith and the Farrier: What's the Difference?
A farrier shoes horses and knows the science, health and mechanics of the horse. As our local blacksmiths like to say, "We don't shoe horses, we shoo flies."
Blacksmiths heat and work iron with tongs, hammer and anvil to make items such as fences, railings, lamps, reproductions of colonial hardware, and tools. Many items are for sale in the Blacksmith Shop, including fireplace tools, belt buckles, plant hangers, trivets, bird and squirrel feeders, plain and fancy hooks, candle holders and other items.
The Blacksmith Shop is the meeting place and training center for several who still practice the blacksmith craft. Demonstrations are often presented during local festivals. The blacksmiths welcome your questions and enjoy explaining how the forge operates.
Manchester Area Historical Society and the Blacksmith Shop
The Blacksmith Shop is used without charge by many community groups for regular and special meetings. The proceeds of MAHS fundraisers and all donations go to support many community activities, the maintenance of the John Schneider Blacksmith Shop, and the John B. Swainson Board Room.