Pricketts Fort salutes history

Greg Bray, Pricketts Fort assistant director, frames in a window in what will be the new blacksmith’s building at Pricketts Fort State Park. Once the new building is finished, the old blacksmith’s station inside the fort will be done away with. Bray hopes to have the building done sometime in April.

In approximately three months, Pricketts Fort State Park will welcome a new “old” building into its historic ensemble.

Replacing the single-forge, outside blacksmith shop located inside the fort now, Bray’s Blacksmith Shop should be ready for its first presentation this April.

“We hope it will be operational by the second week of April,” said Greg Bray, the building’s namesake and assistant director of the park.

With the shingled roof expected to be finished in approximately two weeks, the new facility will contain a total of five forges and possess similar structural details as the buildings presently located at the park.

Together with several other park employees and helpers, Bray has been working on the construction of this new facility since April of 2006. So far, he and his fellow workers have set up most of the log walls and plan to tackle the fillers once the roof and windows are completed in a couple of weeks.

Incorporating both new and old technology into the construction, the new facility was built with the intention of creating an historic look that will last a long time.

“Our goal was to build something that will last longer and look older,” said Lee Miller, a park employee and one of Bray’s assistants on the construction project. “We are building something to look old and using old and new technology to build it. When we get it all done, it’ll be a fine log structure.”

When completed, the park will use the new facility to hold blacksmithing presentations for the public as well as provide educational forums for students taking folklife courses at Fairmont State University.

“This will improve our capacity of what we can do in the blacksmith shop,” said Bray of the new building. “It’ll be more like Williamsburg where they have a multi-station shop and allow visitors to get in and out of the rain to watch the blacksmithing.”

After the blacksmith shop construction is finished, Miller said the park plans on beginning various regular maintenance duties on the other historic buildings.

“There’s always something to be done here,” he said. “When you have buildings that are historic, there is always something to do with them.”

E-mail Mallory Panuska at mpanuska@timeswv.com.

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