The Blacksmith Shop was an important place in Gaylordsville and at one time there were several shops in the village. Some of them were near wagon shops, and the blacksmiths spent more time making nails, bolts and hardware for the new wagons and carriages than they did shoeing horses.
One of these blacksmith shops stood just east of Liberty Hill. Very little is known about it except that William Jennings, who later took over Brown's Forge, learned the trade there. In addition to the farm and carriage horses of the area, some of the horses that hauled the iron ore from South Kent to the furnaces in Bulls Bridge and Kent were brought to Gaylordsville to be shoed. During the peak of this activity a new shop was built that remained in business long after all of the others had closed. In 1870 Amos Brown built a new shop west of the railroad, about a half mile north of the train station for his two sons, Homer and Henry. They had already learned the trade in a shop about a quarter of a mile north of the new one on Long Mountain Road. Mr. Brown installed a forge and an anvil for each son. In 1871 they opened the shop, calling it Brown's Forge, the name it still has.
Homer Brown died in 1899 when he was only 42 years old. Henry carried on the business alone until 1913 when William Jennings, Homer's son-in-law, joined him. Henry died in 1926, and Mr. Jennings continued running the shop until his death in 1942.
The shop was last operated by Nathaniel Ashman who did more woodworking - axe handles and other things - than he did shoeing horses. The forge finally closed its doors in 1962. In 1970, Mrs. Hatie (Brown) Anderson deeded the land and building to the New Milford Historical Society so it could be preserved as an historical site.
In December of 1997, the New Milford Historical Society transferred the forge to the Gaylordsville Historical Society, ensuring that the forge will forever remain in Gaylordsville. Mr. Alan Dodd has been named the first curator of Brown's Forge.
This is an exerpt from John D. Flynn's book entitled The History of Gaylordsville, Connecticut, which is available from the Gaylordsville Historical Society P.O. Box 25, Gaylordsville, CT 06755.
Brown's Forge is an authentic blacksmith shop with original tools and working forge. It is open to the public on Sunday's in July and August from 2 -4 p.m. Free tours of the entire facility.