Historic preservation: Grant to aid repair of former blacksmith shop

July 2021 Posted in Arts, Culture & History, News, People

By James Day

The 1905 blacksmith shop in Mt. Angel

Efforts to repair and restore the historic blacksmith shop in Mount Angel have received a shot in the arm.

Oregon Heritage, a division of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, awarded the project a “Preserving Oregon” grant of $2,149.

The money will be used as part of an $8,000 effort to do repairs and work to preserve the structural integrity of the building, which dates to 1905.

Donations of money, labor and materials will help make up the difference as well as sales of T-shirts during Oktoberfest in September.

Officially called the Windishar-Weissenfels Blacksmith Shop, the shop is a popular stopping point during Oktoberfest.

The shop has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1981.

The shop, at 110 Sheridan St., was built about 1905 by John Windishar. In 1919 brothers Louis (Louie) and Anton (Tony) Weissenfels bought it. Often referred to as “Louie’s” by long-time residents of Mount Angel, the blacksmith shop went through some major repairs during this period. Louie retired from blacksmithing after 60 years, and his daughters, Gert, Mary Lou and Helen, inherited the shop.

Gert Aman ran a successful gift shop called Louie’s Corner in the renovated part of the building. Some of the income from the shop helped pay for the upkeep of the building for many years. Gert’s family has often repaired and replaced parts of the building to keep it open to the public.

At Gert’s request, Mary Lou Bartosz’s daughter, Nancy Lehto, spearheaded the initial effort to get the shop listed on the National Register. Working with her cousin, Debbie (Aman) Anderson, Nancy also submitted the grant proposal for the “Preserving Oregon” grant.

CAB Construction, under the leadership of Chris Bischoff, will be doing the repair and restoration work in August.
Blacksmith shop supporters say there are many other repair and restoration projects to be done in a building over 115 years old and the group hopes to create a nonprofit organization for the shop. Such a move often opens doors to further grants.

“We definitely want help to preserve this blacksmith ship, not only because our grandfather ran it for 60 years, but because it is an integral part of Oregon’s small town and rural history,” said Lehto. 

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