Sitting before a bright orange flame, Vietnamese blacksmith Nguyen Phuong Hung prods a fire pit with a long metal rod before he hammers, bends, and contorts glowing steel into a giant drill bit. Hung, who toils away in his tiny corner stall in downtown Hanoi, is the last remaining blacksmith on Hanoi’s Lo Ren street, named after the masters of metal it was once known for.
What’s a 19th-century blacksmith shop doing in the middle of Baltimore? That’s the question on the mind of many visitors who wander into G. Krug & Son, a blacksmith shop on Saratoga Street near Lexington Market. The owner once boasted that there can hardly be a building in Baltimore that doesn’t contain something from his shop, even if it was only a nail.
For centuries, the craftspeople who worked at G. Krug & Son Ironworks have produced original iron work and restorations for some of the city’s most prominent structures, including the Baltimore Basilica, Homewood House at Johns Hopkins University and the Old Otterbein United Methodist Church. At the moment, the crew is working on refurbishing the fence and eight planters for the restoration of the Washington Monument in Mount Vernon Place.