Wendell August Forge creates ornament to benefit Notre Dame | TribLIVE.com
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Paul Guggenheimer

The fire that severely damaged Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris last week broke the hearts of millions around the world. But it had an even more profound effect on the staff at Wendell August Forge, the renowned Grove City metalsmiths.

The staff there knows a little something about rising from the ashes.

Nearly 10 years ago, the metalsmiths’ historic forge caught fire and burned to the ground. When the Notre Dame fire broke out, the business not only could relate to what happened, it wanted to help.

Wendell August Forge has created a special metal ornament to honor Notre Dame. The business hopes proceeds from sales of the ornament will raise $1 million to help rebuild the Cathedral. Some of the proceeds will also benefit the three churches burned by arson in Louisiana: St. Mary Baptist Church, Greater Union Baptist Church and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church.

“It struck an emotional chord with me,” Wendell August Forge president Christian Werner said. “I’ve literally recalled when our plant began to burn. Our job as humans is to take our own life experiences and help others.”

Werner said that when it caught fire, the Grove City community helped save Wendell August Forge.

“The night of the fire, a construction company, with the firemen’s approval, backed in their heavy equipment and during the fire, pulled off the back end of the building and opened up the vault with the fire going. The firemen lined up and pulled out all of the dyes. Our heritage was preserved because of the community,” Werner said.

Wendell August Forge was able to rebuild, and it continues to employ local artists and craftsmen.

Wendell August Forge workers are no strangers to this kind of work. Recently they created a unique Stronger Than Hate ornament for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.

The Notre Dame Cathedral ornament is available at WendellAugust.com. Each ornament costs $20. Ornaments ship beginning June 1.

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