Built in the 1820s in the heart of Orange, Massachusetts, P.G. Nystrom's Village Blacksmith Shop has endured almost 200 years and several tragedies. Through volunteer efforts by local businesspeople, blacksmiths and citizens, we are undertaking to restore and preserve this historic shop and its contents.
Once restoration efforts have been completed, we hope to expand the project to include educational opportunities and living history demonstrations. The building has been placed on the State Register of Historic Places and we are currently applying for recognition on the National Register of Historical Places.
Many thanks to our supporters and volunteers.
Talk about Yankee Ingenuity!
by David Belcher
Old time blacksmith's had ingenuity, hammering out their iron wares, over hot furnace heat, with bellows pumping air, in the background.
Yes. Phil Nystrom of Orange was one of these busy blacksmiths, crafting everything from horseshoes, to iron gates, to fences, and wagon wheels.
He inherited, and learned his trade from his father, Andrew, who had labored in the East River shop for many years.
This shop was built in the 1820's.
Former Witty's Funeral Home owner, Jim O'Connor, who favored horse drawn vehicles, was a customer, and then owner of the building, in the 1970's.
The shop was hit hard by floods in 1936 and 1938, but survived, to be rediscovered by Orange businessman Bill Mehr.
Bill's in-laws, Doug and Adele Madsen, purchased the building from its former owner, Jim O'Connor, in 1991.
And recently, Bill's mother-in-law asked for his help with trying to restore the shop.
Early on, Bill became fascinated by watching Phil work at his flickering anvil in the 1970's.
Bill has enlisted, and won, the support of Orange educators, as well as Senator Steve Brewer, former Representative Chris Donelan, and current Representative Denise Andrews.
The building has been recognized by the Massachusetts Historical Commission as a historic site. The next step will be applying for National recognition.
From all accounts, this is a very exciting project, poised and ready to take full flight!
It promises to enlighten the youth of our area, and others, to take greater interest in the industrial history of Orange, and to inspire young people to remain in the North Quabbin area, after further schooling or military training.
Donations are welcomed for this project and will be used to restore this great old smithy shop, wherein local blacksmith craftsmen will demonstrate their skills for school children, and many others.
How about this for a win-win-win situation?!
Note: Bill Mehr passed away in 2013. The Board of Directors of Nystrom’s Village Blacksmith Shop, Inc., has resolved that the organization Bill founded shall continue.