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“The smith, a mighty man is he…”

“…with large and sinewy hands”

Continuing the theme of “Work” in Agincourt, it’s hard to avoid the village blacksmith, especially as rendered for us by Longfellow.

Anton Kraus entered the story circa 1885, establishing his forge on the city’s southwest side and eventually moving it the industrial zone at the west city limits. Kraus Bridge & Iron is still there (at least the original building is) being used as a community arts center. But smiting would have been one of the earliest trades required by a new settlement in the 1850s. Horses had to be shod; tack and harness repaired; yokes mended and doors hinged. Spikes, nails, and brads might still have been hand forged in those transitional years just prior to the Civil War. So the ring of hammer on anvil would have been a common sound in that part of town.

Horsepower was the literal means of transport until well into the 20th century. Equus & Co.’s building still stands on Second Street S.E., a service for those without their own stables. A blacksmith would have been among their staff, his work probably limited to shoeing. But given the prosaic utilitarian nature of smithing, it is remarkable how often these humble establishments were recorded in postcard form. Today alone there were half a dozen on the auction site that shall not be named, examples which I offer as the character of Agincourt’s own yet-to-be-designed facility.

agincourt-blacksmith-3 agincourt-blacksmith-2 agincourt-blacksmith

John Jacob Glessner once asked architect H.H. Richardson, apologetically, to design his home, wondering if the great man would deign to undertake something so modest. Nonsense, Richardson chided, “I’ll design anything a man wants, from a cathedral to a chicken coop.” I wonder how he might have turned his keen designer’s eye toward the smithy.


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