Place

Blacksmith Shop (Herbert Hoover National Historic Site)

A low brown barn-like building with three large doorways has a large horseshoe on its facade.
Herbert Hoover's father Jesse owned a blacksmith shop represented by the one at Herbert Hoover NHS

NPS Photo

Quick Facts

Audio Description, Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits, Wheelchair Accessible

"My recollection of my father is of necessity dim indeed, but I retain one vivid memento from this time. Playing barefoot around the blacksmith shop, I stepped on a chip of hot iron and carry the brand of Iowa on my foot to this day."

Herbert Hoover

Herbert Hoover's father Jesse owned and operated a blacksmith shop from 1871 to 1878. Although there were other smithies in town, Jesse earned a reputation as a good-natured, fair, and industrious businessman. Skilled and ambitious, he advertised to farmers, "Horse shoeing and plow work a specialty. Also dealer in all kinds of pumps. Prices to suit the times." 

Reconstructed Shop

Built in 1957, this building represents the kind of blacksmith and wagon shops that were common in the 1870s. It is based on the sketches of Herbert's older brother Theodore, from his recollections of what their father's shop looked like. The re-built blacksmith shop sits west of the original shop's location just a stone's throw from the Birthplace Cottage.

Horseshoes & Wagon Wheels

Large double doors made it easy to maneuver horses around for shoeing or to bring in large wagon wheels or plows for repair. Inside the main building you'll find a working forge, along with an anvil, and a rack filled with period tools of the trade.

"The Brand of Iowa"

Banging iron, sparking fires, and a stream of customers, often brought Jesse's boys, "Tad" and "Bertie" across old Penn Street to investigate their father's business. Herbert Hoover wrote in his memoirs, "My recollection of my father is of necessity dim indeed, but I retain one vivid memento from this time. Playing barefoot around the blacksmith shop, I stepped on a chip of hot iron and carry the brand of Iowa on my foot to this day."

Successful Career Cut Short

Success allowed Jesse to buy a larger farm implement store on Main Street in 1878. Here he sold pumps, wagons, barbed wire, and sewing machines. He operated that shop until his death in December 1880. Though he died at age 34, in his short life he had provided an excellent example of what hard work and integrity could achieve. 

Last updated: February 4, 2021