The Roycroft Campus is known for its fascinating history and now another bit of history will be able to welcome visitors for generations to come.
Officials cut the ribbon on the newly restored Copper Shop on Wednesday morning.
It was a moment five months in the making.
All of the artwork that was previously housed in the Copper Shop had to be moved out to do major work replacing and repairing the 118 year old floors.
“Sections of the floor were completely crumbling,” said Curt Maranto, the Roycroft Campus Executive Director. “We had water coming up through the floor. We had support beams under the hardwood floor that had cracked.”
Completing the restoration work on the national historic landmark brought extra challenges, but also an extra opportunity to do an archeological dig in the floor.
Crews turned up everything from the hearth in the original blacksmith shop to a bit of a mystery in the furnace in the floor of the finishing room.
“In that furnace was a pile of copper wire about the size of a bowling ball sitting there, and among that, and it sounds really strange, was a pickle jar with pickles still in it!” Maranto said.
It’s not clear exactly why the pickles were placed there or how old they are, but we know the copper and iron working operations were added to the campus in its early days.
The campus was founded as a place to print Elbert Hubbard’s best-selling book, A Message to Garcia.
But, as Hubbard’s fans flocked to the campus, the former Larkin Soap Company salesman was able to redirect the metal workers who built the infrastructure on the property to begin creating and selling decorative arts.
“I think it’s a really important part of our local history, but it’s also part of our greater American story,” said Amizetta Haj, marketing and visitor engagement manager for the Roycroft Campus. “The Roycrofters and Elbert Hubbard made a big impact on social issues, and the Arts and Crafts movement which they helped found here in East Aurora.”
Today, Roycroft artisans continue that tradition making everything from prints to pottery, jewelry, furniture and more.
All of those items are now back on display and for sale inside the newly restored Copper Shop.
Work will continue to further restore the building in the future, but the projects to fix the walls and windows can be completed in small sections, allowing the Copper Shop to remain open to visitors while the remainder of the work is done.