The blaze reportedly started with a chemical spray that caught fire. The plume of smoke went hundreds of feet into the air and could be seen in Volant.
Wendell August Forge is America’s oldest and largest forge, producing hand-wrought ornamental metalware and elegant giftware in aluminum and other metals since 1923. The company was founded in Brockway, Pennsylvania by Wendell McMinn August, who, at age 38, was active in the coal industry.
August engaged Ottone “Tony” Pisoni, a blacksmith in his coal mine, to hand-forge door latches for his home. Admiring the low cost and high quality of Pisoni’s work, August was inspired to start a decorative ironware business. Pisoni was joined by three more blacksmiths who handcrafted the first product line, including one-of-a-kind fireplace andirons, candlesticks, lighting standards, doorknockers, latches, railings, and grilles for windows and doors.
In 1930, a commission to create decorative aluminum gates and elevator doors for the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA) led to a new era of design innovation.
Pisoni mastered the art of forging aluminum, and the company prospered, forging the designs of James McCausland, an architect who joined Wendell August in 1928 and became Designer and Operations Manager. A commission for architectural remodeling at the Grove City National Bank proved so successful that the Bank’s president convinced Wendell August to relocate to Grove City, even investing in the company to facilitate the move. Wendell August’s Grove City forge is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Sadly, there were thousands of incredible pieces of artwork in the building - many museum quality, many rare, many discontinued.
For sake of full disclosure, both my wife and my mother worked for the Forge. My wife was in showroom sales and my mother in catalog sales.