The collection, preservation, and dissemination of knowledge about the history of Cook County and relate it to the history of Minnesota.

We need your help to restore a important piece of Cook County and Minnesota's history. Please, donate to the Cook County Historical Society for the restoration of the Bally Blacksmith Shop - a Grand Marais iconic site that represents this area's history like no other location.

Thanks to the Minnesota Historical Society’s Legacy Grants Program Cook County was able to purchase the Bally Blacksmith Property to preserve for future generations. As we take the next steps to stabilize and restore the property, we ask you to help us.

THE VISION for this historic site is to create an inviting venue that honors the Bally blacksmiths and the other skilled, hard-working people of Cook County who built a community with perseverance and dedication.

IMMEDIATE STABILIZATION NEEDS WILL COST $40,000 Our first priority is to protect the historic, wooden structure and its contents from the elements and to stabilize the structure so that it is safe – all while maintaining its historical integrity.


Roof work – estimated cost $6,500

Electrical system – estimated cost $5,000

Chimneys – estimated cost $6,000

Exterior cladding – estimated cost $5,000

Loft repairs – estimated cost $6,600


1) Properly catalog and document the site and the many important items contained in the historic shop

2) Clean and prepare buildings and outdoor door area for future exhibits and public gathering

3) Collect stories about the Ballys and their work

4) Staff site to open for public tours and programs


Three generations of the Bally family worked as blacksmiths. Sam Bally, whose skills were crucial to the lumber industry, arrived in 1903 to work for a sawmill. In 1911 he started his own business and built the long-standing Bally Blacksmith Shop that we see today.

Upon Sam’s passing, the family business went to his son Albert, an electrical engineer and army veteran. He eventually passed the shop to his son Bill. Bill and Albert worked at the shop together for decades, and it was a very active site until the 1990s. Many in the community have fond memories of Bill, Al and the Shop.

Through its repair work, the Bally Blacksmith Shop has chronicled Cook County’s economic history progressing from horse-drawn, lumber camp equipment to motorized commercial fishing rigs to tourist automobiles and snow-mobiles. The building represents utilitarian, commercial, false-front architecture, which once lined the streets of small-towns. It is one of very few original blacksmith shops that remain in Minnesota.

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