Shop

Gehring Ranch Historic District

Successful farmers and ranchers need to know their crops, animals, and the markets, but they also must be mechanically inclined, resourceful, and self-reliant. This was especially true in the Gehring Ranch’s early days when a trip to the hardware store was an expensive daylong commitment. As the surviving objects still hanging in this shop demonstrate, almost nothing was disposable. The shop was essential to creating and maintaining the ranch’s basic elements. Here the Gehrings forged gate hardware, sharpened cutters, or repaired a double-tree hitch. If an object became obsolete, its remnants were kept for possible reuse elsewhere. The original log shop, built between 1871 and 1880 as a chicken coop, is a study in adaptation and reuse. When the Gehrings’ brood outgrew this building, the shop moved in. A substantial timber-frame addition came years later to accommodate a blacksmith shop complete with a brick forge and handmade workbench. The shop’s random mix of log notching styles and variable width board-and-batten siding illustrates the fact that the Gehrings constructed it as time and material allowed and valued the building more for its function than for its appearance.

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5488 Lincoln Road West, Helena, Montana ~ Private