PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Three and a half years after a devastating fire, Wendell August Forge has been re-born.
A crowd turned out Tuesday morning to witness a grand reopening just down the road from the Grove City Outlets.
When the fire struck on March 6, 2010, it appeared that America’s oldest and largest forge, still crafting metal by hand, was doomed. That would not be the case.
“We’re celebrating a company that clearly has risen, literally, from the ashes,” Gov. Tom Corbett said at an on-site news conference.
Flanked by owner Will Knecht and his mother, Connie, the governor helped cut the ribbon on a new, 5,2000-square foot facility.
“The day after the fire, we were told to expect to be out of business nine months,” Knecht said. “We were back up and running in our makeshift workshop in five days. We were back up and running in a temporary location of our offices in two weeks.”
Gov. Corbett joined other visitors on the first public tour of the building, which was financed in part of a $4 million state grant.
Retail director Karen Anderson says generations of workers have crafted elegant giftware, working on machinery salvaged from the fire. The building is new, but the craftsmanship has changed very little in the past 90 years.
The forge owns six acres of land right next to the building, leaving plenty of room for expansion.
Out of the ashes, Knecht says his team will work together “to accomplish the miraculous over the next 90 years.”