The Vassalboro Historical Society is working to preserve a blacksmith shop built about 1932 by Harold C. Taylor who used the building with its huge wood fired pit and foot activated bellows to make horseshoes, hay conveyors, cow stanchions and various tools.
During the 50s and 60s young boys from the town were hired by Mr. Taylor to carry, sand and paint the articles he built. Steven Clowes remembers Mr. Taylor as a quiet man, who would drop whatever he was building on to the metal work tables with a loud startling bang.
In an excerpt from Stephen Robbins’ 1967 diary he describes watching Mr. Taylor “forging a new logging chain by hand, using his coal-fired forge, hammer and anvil.”
Dick Cain who worked with him in the late 1950s remembers that Harold never wore gloves. When Dick asked about it Mr. Taylor replied: “If you do anything long enough, you get used to it.” Dick also recalls that Mr. Taylor could figure out anything and had built a log loader for Masse’s Saw Mill, as well as the chains to carry, flip and roll the logs to the cutting saw.
Mr. Taylor retired in the mid 70s...leaving the building as a snapshot of an earlier time. Time and the environment took a toll on the building. The lack of drainage caused the ground to soften and the building began to sink. The items stored on the second floor caused it to become unsafe.
From a previous article:
“The Taylor Blacksmith shop in East Vassalboro was built about 1932 by Harold C. Taylor.
Harold Taylor was born in 1897, the son of Ernest and Gertrude Taylor, who lived on the Priest Hill Road in Vassalboro. Taylor attended Vassalboro elementary school and Oak Grove Seminary where he graduated in 1914.
Following this his parents sent him to blacksmith Ernest Ackley of Fairfield to apprentice in that trade. He later said that he got very good training there. He then set up a blacksmith shop at the home of his parents on Priest Hill. He married in 1931 and he and his wife bought a house on Rt. 32 in East Vassalboro. On that property he built a blacksmith shop. His practice in the 1930s and 1940s consisted mainly of shoeing horses and repairing horse-drawn farm vehicles. He was also a wheelwright and thus he made and repaired farm vehicle wheels. By the 1950s, with the disappearance of horses from the farm scene, he turned his principal practice to the manufacture of metal cow stalls, which he sold all over New England. At this time for a while he also sold farm equipment such as barn cleaners. And of course all of his life he did much miscellaneous iron work.
He passed away in 1980. He was able to work, at least to a limited extent, until the date of his death. He had a long and productive life.
The blacksmith shop is pretty much the way he left it. The lathe, drill press and welder have been sold. Otherwise everything is intact.”
The Vassalboro Historical Society is excited about its preservation of the blacksmith shop. One hundred cubic yards of gravel will form the new base of the shop. The existing cement pads will be placed on the gravel base to stabilize and level the building, making it a safe structure once again. We hope that in the near future visitors will be able to step back into history to see the forge at work, learn about Mr. Taylor and his business as well as to spark an interest in the Society and its programs.
Anyone interested in becoming a member of the Vassalboro Historical Society is welcome to contact us by e-mail at email@example.com; by phone at (207) 923-3505 or by mail at VHS, PO Box 43, East Vassalboro, ME 04935. Our membership information can be found on our website at www.VHSME.org.