The Blacksmith SHop

HISTORIC BLACKSMITH SHOP MURAL

The “Hope for Tomorrow” mural commemorates the survival of a local landmark, a blacksmith shop with a history that dates to antebellum Falls Church.   Even more significantly, it features two men, one White and one Black, who operated that shop for a half century.  This building and its mural honor their success in running a successful business in the first half of the twentieth century and in establishing a bi-racial business partnership during the Jim Crow era.

The blacksmith shop, located behind The Falls Church, opened for business in 1850.  Its owner was William H. G. Lynch, and during the Civil War, the shop was a center of Confederate activity. 

In 1906, Robert Harmon, a White man, bought the shop.  He hired Henry Simms, a skilled African- American blacksmith, to work with him.  Simms, who worked in the shop for many decades, gained a reputation for his ease with and calm handling of nervous horses. Descendants of both men still live in the Falls Church area to this day. 

 

This mural is a testament to both men and to the continuing struggle for equality, justice, racial harmony, and respect.

 

The mural artist, David Barr, included historic and symbolic images in this work, including:

  • The flames, representing struggle as well the opportunity to ignite change

  • The horseshoe, a sign of the trade as well as good luck and fortune, reflects the relationship between the two men.

  • The jagged edges between images and the Black Lives Matter segment are reminders that the struggles continue.

This mural was realized through the partnership between the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation and The Falls Church.  It is part of the Tinner Hill Mural Initiative, supported by the Community Foundation of Northern Virginia and other local and regional donors.