AUGUSTA — Snow is still coming through gaps in the roof of an old blacksmith shop on Main Street, but brighter days are ahead for this building.

The Kenck’s Building, which dates from the 1880s or so, has a double door that buggies once rolled through. Brands are seared into one wall. Two forges are crumbling on the opposite wall.

The building had a car wash, an International Harvester dealership and a lumber store.

Inspired by its past, Lynn Kenyon of Augusta is restoring the building at 206 Main Street and turning it into a store called the Forge, which will have “swanky antiques,” gifts, jewelry and art.

“It will have very cool stuff,” she said. “We’d like to bring life back into this dead building.”

She’s also applied for it to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It appears that it would be Augusta’s first entry on the list.

The building is nearly 8,000 square feet and will also be home to a Live in Montana Real Estate office. Kenyon is the owner and principal broker of the brokerage, which also has offices and/or agents in Cut Bank, Choteau, Hall, Fairfield, Great Falls and Craig.

So that leaves nearly 5,000 square feet of space in the building that’s still waiting for a use. Kenyon wants to hear some ideas for the community.

“What would people like to see? A dance hall? A bar? An outfitting business? A bike shop?” she said. “We really want public input on how to best utilize this historic, funky building in the center of town.”

Kenyon said her husband, Brad Laue, would like to see blacksmithing in the building again.

In the meantime, she’ll restore it to “something awesome,” bringing out the historic elements.

“It’s just seeped in history,”  she said.

The building sat empty for years, its disrepair growing.

“Just tragic,” Kenyon said.

The antiques displays are taking shape. Kenyon has collected them from across the country and even abroad. She has an intricately carved Bavarian sleigh, painted panels from a church, a turquoise bracelet with bear claws, old birdcages and saddles from as far back as the days of the Montana Territory.

“We’d like to have over-the-top cool rare things, and something for everyone,” Kenyon said.

Paulette Hughes will be the store’s manager. She ran an antique mall in Seattle before moving to Montana.

Kenyon also has a 50-acre wedding venue outside town, Round Up Barn Weddings & Events.

The venue and soon the store help bring people to town, she said. That’s good for everybody.

“I’m never leaving Augusta. My family loves it here,” she said.

The Forge’s soft opening is expected soon, with a grand opening later in the spring.

The original article can be view on The Great Falls Tribune website at https://bit.ly/2Uxp42i Reprinted with permission.