• Donations gathered between now and Tuesday, June 20, will shape the celebratory fireworks we'll see in the sky over Lindsborg the evening of July 4. Please drop cash or checks made out to Kiwanis Club of Lindsborg to David Hay at First Bank. After that, final preparations will be under way by the club and Robert Ahlstedt of Ahlstedt Fireworks. Thanks to all for bringing back a community fireworks display as part of our Independence Day tradition.
• 40 promotional items to Betty at Lindsborg Community Hospital by Tuesday, June 6. Please? Thanks.
Historic redeveloper Jim Prugh and his spouse Diane Fatheree of Colorado will be in Lindsborg for a few days next week. Give them a wave. Buy them a refreshment. If reflecting on the current level of vitality and collaboration in the business community, please think of Jim's decade of investments as a significant part of that mix. One recent example? Jim's care and vision for the historic Main Street building that now houses Blacksmith Coffee Shop & Roastery -- and the collaboration that followed. Read on if you wish...
Lindsborg’s Blacksmith Coffee Shop & Roastery embodies three equally good stories: • an out-of-stater buys a decrepit-yet-intriguing building because he *hoped* for potential more than saw it. • a young business owner merges two existing small businesses into one by fusing family, meaning and identity in one historic building. • a construction manager orchestrates an historic building’s original melody with a host of modern accompaniments into a masterwork. Blacksmith Coffee Shop and Roastery, now open at 122 N. Main Street, is a joyous locale that few could have envisioned — except maybe the synergy of this diverse trio. Walk toward the Blacksmith Coffee location today and find a tidy 117-year-old red brick building with its original black-and-white stairstep façade that proclaims: “Holmberg and Johnson Blacksmith & Wagonshop.” Inside, scan an eye-pleasing amalgam of the original, repurposed and new in a serene and clean coffee house. Out of sight behind the coffee house is a two-story metal building that houses a regional coffee roasting and shipping operation. When Jim Prugh of Colorado purchased Lindsborg's Blacksmith building nine years ago, he had no idea what this place could become. However, if he knew that if he didn’t intervene, he felt certain that the blacksmith shop would succumb to insects, neglect and eventually gravity. “I was struck by its history, rustic beauty and incongruity,” Prugh said. “I asked myself, 'Why is this blacksmith shop still standing here?’ While I had no plan, I bought this ‘diamond in the dirt’ and waited.” Several months elapsed before Prugh found an entrepreneur, Mark Galloway, who named his new wholesale and online retail coffee roasting business in honor of the building itself. Prugh continued to find and renovate other historic properties in downtown Lindsborg. In 2016, eight years later, Molli Esping had just purchased Lindsborg's popular Old Grind Coffee Shop at 113 N. Main St. from Janice and John Rathlef. Esping also was considering the purchase of Galloway’s now-successful Blacksmith Coffee Roastery, conveniently located across Main Street. Esping, now 20, said she and her family envisioned that combining a retail coffee shop with a wholesale roastery could be more than the sum of its parts. Yet she was not optimistic about locating them both under one roof. Then she talked with Galloway, Prugh, and Lindsborg’s historic renovation expert, Brian Freeman. Over several meetings, it became clear that both businesses could operate in one location — and that was exactly where Blacksmith Coffee Roastery was situated, using both the blacksmith building and the adjacent metal building. “The prospects were particularly fun to consider because I am descended from country blacksmiths and metalworkers on my dad’s side. In fact, we still had my great-great grandfather’s anvil in our barn,” says Esping. The historic restoration job was entrusted to Freeman and his 20-plus years of experience with resurrecting historic buildings in Colorado and Kansas. Freeman said he and his team's creativity and respect for historic architecture was “taxed to the max” over the next few months. “Almost everything was touched in the rehab,” Freeman recounted. "We rebuilt a good bit of one soft brick wall, which was very close to disintegrating into a pile of red dust. We worked through electrical and plumbing challenges to carve out a new kitchen and handicap-accessible bathrooms. Plus, we added a second floor to the metal building in back so that heavy bags of raw coffee beans could be hoisted on a lift and stored above the roasting room below.” Perhaps the most challenging problem was saving the blacksmith shop’s original uneven brick floor to make it level and walkable for customers as well as health code compatible. “After much research on new materials and old methods, we decided to pull up all the bricks, create a new base, and re-lay them,” he said. “In the end, it was intense and a huge puzzle — but it was necessary and we did it.” The building’s history still shines through modernity. Blacksmith Coffee Shop & Roastery is topped by solar panels. Inside, the base of a reconditioned Esping-family wagon was repurposed as the front counter. Dozens of Edison-style LED bulbs, dangling from the rafters, illuminate the entire coffee shop, yet consume a fraction of the electricity of standard bulbs. It is also powered by warm smiles, lively conversation and fresh roasted coffee six days a week from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Soon to come is a revised menu and at-your-table brewing techniques called “pour overs” that are part chemistry experiment, but always a delicious hot beverage. And, oh yes, the Esping family anvil presides over the whole transformation. Who would have thought it possible?