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What do Johns Hopkins University and Hospital, Greenmount Cemetery, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Marine Commandant’s House in Washington D.C., the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, and countless Baltimore-Washington streets, houses, businesses, monuments, and institutions have in common?  The answer is G. Krug & Son.

The blacksmith shop located at 415 West Saratoga Street in Baltimore has been supplying high-quality iron and metal products since 1810.  Started by a German immigrant, Augustus Schwatka, and being turned over twenty years later to Andrew Merker, a local Baltimore minister and metalworker, the business focused on small metal fixings.  Door hinges, cart wheels, nails, bell hangers, and other small supplies would be produced at what was once the edge of the blossoming city, but now, occupying a spot on the central west side of the city.

Not until another German immigrant came into the picture did the business start shaping into the namesake it is today.  Gustav Krug immigrated from a small province in Germany in 1850, and eventually found his way to A. Merker Blacksmith.

Within a year, Krug made his mark, and the company became A. Merker & Krug.  By 1871, near the end of Merker’s life and with the addition of a couple more Krugs, G. Krug & Son took hold of the little shop and expanded it to a near monopoly on the iron and metalworkers market in Baltimore.

From there, G. Krug & Son became the go to company for ornamental fences, gates, railings, fire escapes, crestings, doors, cages, and locks throughout the end of the 19th century and first half of the 20th century.  Animal cages were made for the Baltimore Zoo, hospital beds, gates, and fences were created for Johns Hopkins Hospital, iron fences and gates were put around almost every cemetery in Baltimore county, Krug locks could be found anywhere from Baltimore Rowhouses to the buildings in Colonial Williamsburg.  G. Krug & Son even coined a signature style in the blacksmithing world with their “Otterbein Style,” named after their work on the oldest church edifice in Baltimore, the Otterbein Methodist Church.  The company’s influence can be found as far south as Louisiana, but, most notably, all over the Baltimore-Washington area.

Since the middle of the 20th century, the shop has expanded to include the demand for security features with window and door guards becoming a desired commodity in Baltimore City.  But, what came with a rise in security features saw a waning in the desire for new custom-made iron and metal products, as factory produced aluminum and steel items became more affordable.  G. Krug & Son had existed for nearly 150 years by 1950, and the business behind the quality products continually adapted with each new adversity.  The new era of G. Krug & Son came with restoration work and the idea of sharing its incredibly influential past.

G. Krug & Son Ironworks Museum became a reality under current G. Krug & Son owner, Peter Krug.  He enlisted the help and knowledge of past and current employees, local Baltimore museum professionals, and a growing list of college interns to fulfill his father’s dream of making G. Krug & Son into both the high-quality blacksmith shop it had been and an accredited museum.  With the vast collection of drawings, almost perfect business records, and pieces of past projects, all dating from as far back as the early 19th century, the fundamental basis for its museum had already existed within the walls of the shop, it just all needed organized into something presentable.  That process has continued with help from local businesses, organizations, institutions, and internships.

The company is a part of Baltimore.  It has stood strong while the Krug family helped the city grow around it. Now the Krug’s want to give back even more to the city.  They want to share a history that is little known, but is literally everywhere you look in the city.

“There is hardly a building in Baltimore that doesn’t contain something we made,
even if it is only a nail.”

- Theodore F. Krug II

Line

415 West Saratoga St
Baltimore, MD 21201

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