The Blacksmith Shop Museum, located on Dawes Road, is built on one of the first deeded pieces of properties of the early town of Foxcroft, when its inhabitants numbered only ten. The land – 50 acres – was deeded by Joseph Ellery Foxcroft to Nathan and Joshua Carpenter on March 31, 1810 for the sum of $100.00.
|By June 1836, the land – then a piece of Penobscot County, was sold by Mr. Carpenter to Aaron Prouty. Its ownership rapidly changed hands as more and more pioneers penetrated the virgin forests.
In 1838 Piscataquis County was organized and subsequent deeds to the property were executed for Alden Washburn (1840), Augustus Fitzgerald (1846), Nahum McKusick (1851), Samuel Gile (1861) until Nicholas Chandler gained title to the property in November 1862. Mr. Chandler bred and trained horses and in connection with this business built the original blacksmith shop.
During the Civil War period, the little shop which had been erected, became an integral part of a busy neighborhood where blacksmiths with brawny sinews wielded a masterful hammer to make the various items so necessary to the farmer of the day.
|Eventually, the shop came into the possession of Mr. Chandler’s sister, Cynthia Chandler Parsons. In 1863, her husband, Henry Parsons, a blacksmith by trade, with others in the community, formed the Cooperative Blacksmithing Company of Foxcroft.
The building was enlarged and evidence of this is visible on the chimney of the forge, showing a line of demarcation. Henry Parsons was the last to actively use the shop from 1881 to 1905, when its doors were closed to further activity. The shop is a fine example of the early type of simple, rural construction which sturdiness had weathered the ravages of time and neglect.
|The “old smithy shop” is one of the few remaining and perhaps the only one in the State of Maine which can proudly display much of its original equipment. The old anvil, having been removed many years ago, has returned to the site.
An 1858 newspaper advertisement called attention to “Joseph M. Bachelor’s patented invention of an Ox-Lifter, by the use of which any ox, however stubborn, can be shod, without any of the hard labor usually associated with the raising of the feet, as the worst cases can be handled by the shoer with perfect ease and without injury to the ox”.
The Ox-Lifter, on display, was made in the same early blacksmith shop, having survived removal to other premises, the weathering of years and a farmhouse fire. It is now returned to its beginnings. Other tools and furnishings are such as one might have found in a busy shop of those early days.
Names of neighboring farmers chalked above the rafters were where sample horseshoes were kept on hand for their particular faithful steeds. In the blacksmith’s spare time, he had these patterns to guide his hand when he fulfilled an order left by a regular customer.
Some of the tools in the shop are now “interactive” and children are encouraged to make them work. Drawings done local artist, Bruce Towle, show how many of the tools were used.
The realization of the importance of saving and restoring the artifacts of an early way of life was the motivation which prompted the organization of the Dover-Foxcroft Historical Society in 1964. The Society took possession of the Blacksmith Shop from J. Francis and Vergie A. Nelson on June 15, 1964. Much work needed to be accomplished to save the old building. The beams were straightened, making the building plumb. Weathered boards were donated and used to repair the roof and cedar wood shingles put on. Another neighbor volunteered to build a door. Old glass was donated for the windows. Students from Foxcroft Academy came and worked on the premises with brush cutters, clearing the grounds for landscaping.
The shop is open most every day from Memorial Day to October. You are welcome to visit and browse and we hope you find it of interest.