Fireside Winery in the Village

The building that today houses Fireside Winery in the Village was built in the early 1860s as a residence and workshop. Through the decades many different families and craftspeople lived and worked in this structure.

The Amana watchmaker shop was located in the building by at least the 1870s. The watch shop was in one or more of the rooms in the front section of the building. Census and other records identify five individuals as clock and watchmakers and repairers during the Amana communal era (1855 -1932). Three of these men likely learned their trade while the Inspirationists lived in their first settlement in the United States, the Eben-Ezer villages near Buffalo, New York.

It is unclear exactly how much, if any, of the work done in the clock and watch shop involved constructing time pieces and how much was devoted to the repair and maintenance of clocks and watches. In the village of Middle Amana, clockmaker Friedrich Hahn produced an estimated 40 clocks in his career, constructing his clock works by hand from both purchased parts and pieces of his own manufacture. Unfortunately, at this time there are no known clocks or watches are attributed to the Amana shop.

The story and a half south wing of this structure once contained the Amana tin shop. This shop was one of only four that operated during the Amana communal period. The others were short lived shops in East Amana and West Amana and a shop in the village of Homestead.

The Amana Tin Shop was initially under the charge of Heinrich Erzinger (1847-1893) and, later, of his nephew, J. George Erzinger (1872 – 1960). Heinrich Erzinger spent two brief periods living outside the Amana Society, during one of which he authored a short manual on tin smithing. He originally operated a tin shop in West Amana, but moved, along with his shop and equipment, to Amana in 1872. Because no tin smith appears to have worked in the village of Amana prior to that time this is likely the date that the tin shop opened in this structure and may, in fact, represent the year when an addition was made to the building.

The tinsmiths in communal Amana produced a wide variety of items for use in the Amana communal kitchens. These items ranged from cookie cutters and cake pans to tools used in the wine making and butchering processes. Tinsmiths also did general metal work, producing downspouts, stove pipes and repairing a wide variety of sheet metal items that the Society purchased from the outside. Each spring, the kitchen workers performed the annual process of cleaning their tin ware, usually scrubbing it with sand to remove corrosion. Items that needed repair were taken by wagon to the tin shop. Because there were only two tin shops in the seven villages for much of the communal period, kitchens in other villages would have dispatched their broken tinware to either Amana or Homestead.

With the reorganization of the Amana Society, he closed his shop. Most of the work done by the tin shop had been for the communal kitchens and when they closed there was simply little need for tin work. The tin shop in the village of Homestead continued to operate until 1941. It has since been demolished, leaving the structure in Amana as the only identified tin shop building still extant in the Amana villages.