Sunday, September 14, 2003

Blacksmith's shop getting its glow back

The Associated Press

RICHFIELD, Ohio - Underneath layers of linoleum and sub-flooring, curved depressions in the building's thick wooden floorboards are telling evidence of activity from the previous century.

"This is where the floor was burned by hot pieces of metal from the forge. And these are horseshoe marks," said Jim Fry of Richfield Township, who has a museum on his farm dedicated to life in early Summit County.

Fry is transforming the building in Richfield, which has gone through reincarnations as a general store, accountant's office and meeting hall, back to its original form - a blacksmith's shop.

He is carefully tearing off layers of once-modern adornments to reveal Mike Hotz's blacksmith's shop underneath. When that is complete, he will move the building to his farm.

"I feel like an archaeologist," Fry said. Drywall and wallboard that have been torn away reveals "Terms Cash Please" painted on an interior wall. Another message reads, "All horses shod at owner's risk."

Richfield Mayor Don Larsen said he's pleased that the shop will be saved.

"It's one of several buildings coming down to make way for our Village Green," Larsen said. "We have a plan to restore the historic part of the village, putting in old-fashioned sidewalks and lighting in that area."

Hotz arrived in Richfield in 1886 to work for the Killifer blacksmith's shop. About 1903, he built his own shop next door and ran it until the mid-1930s, when he lost an eye in a shop accident and could no longer work.

Buzzy Davis, 79, remembers Hotz's blacksmith's shop from his childhood.

"I used to walk past it on the way to school, and he would let me watch him work," Davis said. "You had to watch what you picked up because there were a lot of hot pieces of metal lying around. I learned that it didn't have to be glowing red to be hot."

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