The 1892 Kidd Blacksmith Shop was the village hardware store in Illinois’ early days. The blacksmith made a wide variety of items including tools, barn door hinges, irons for a kitchen fireplace, runners for a sled, wagon springs, door latches, pots and pans, and harness hardware. He made nearly every common use metal object by hand.
Blacksmith shops differed according to the preferences and needs of the individual blacksmith but all had many things in common. A wooden rack along one wall stored the blacksmith’s stock of metal and could include 16-foot lengths of bar iron including square ones, round ones, flat, oval and rectangular ones. Wooden kegs were filled with horseshoes arranged in handy disorder according to the smith’s individual system. Templates for a buggy body hung from the low rafters. The outer walls supported leaning piles of what looked like junk, the old iron bearing no particular resemblance to anything; yet each piece had been made for a specific purpose and saved because it contained valuable iron.
Built in 1892 for William Curtin, the blacksmith shop of the LaSalle County Historical Society has only served as such its entire life. Several smiths had shops in the building, including Luther Acuff, William Arthur, and John Kidd. Kidd was in business from 1941 until his death in 1969. The Society purchased the building from Mrs. Violet Kidd in 1972, and extensive restoration was done during the next few years. Most of the original tools and equipment remain in the shop. The rings on the building’s south wall were used to tie horses while they were shod. The collection of horseshoes overhead illustrates a wide variety of shoes and the many hoof sizes.