Down a little lane Munjoy residents have likely passed a hundred times, sits the neighborhood blacksmith.
Portland Forge is a working 19th century blacksmith strictly employing traditional methods (no welding, not even an electric saw). Virtually uninterrupted since the mid-1800's, the shop continues to produce odds and ends for commercial clients such as the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad, and smaller components and implements for artists and craftspeople near and far.
Sam Smith (yes, that's his real name) oversees the Maine Blacksmiths Guild and takes on apprentices at the shop as young as 12 years old for a 5-year journeyman certificate program. And what a shop it is! Dim, mysterious, and very old. The entire back wall of the cave-like structure, stretching away into the darkness, is the original seawall that held the ocean back from Fore St.
On a recent visit, several young passers-by, ages 5-12, along with their parents and others, were fascinated by the goings on inside the shop including the implements of production and their resulting artifacts. The recent city vote to demolish the warehouse building adjacent to the Portland Forge was a topic of conversation for the group gathered.
Smith was profiled by the Bangor Daily News in December and indicated that he was cautiously optimistic about the revitalization efforts for the Portland Company complex but that if his shop was to be evicted that he may well look internationally for a new location, perhaps looking to Europe for a more receptive town in which to practice his ancient craft.
For more information, visit Sam's Facebook page.