In 1878, William Kehoe partially inherited the Phoenix Foundry from James Monahan, whom he had spent several years working for. Kehoe purchased the remainder of the estate from Monahan’s wife, and in 1880, he changed the name to Kehoe Iron Works. The Second Empire tower at the iron works has been read as a symbol of Kehoe’s prosperity. The central tower, the dominating feature of the building, was at one time surmounted by a cupola and bell tower. Iron cresting topped the mansard roof. Both of these elements were later removed.By 1903, the iron works consisted of an iron foundry, a brass foundry, machine, blacksmith, and boiler shops, and various storehouses.
By the turn of the 20th century, iron ornamentation on dwellings and on industrial buildings was declining. The romantic period for the iron industry was ending, a development that has been attributed to the fact that “craftsmanship was not as important as price by this time…and higher production was replacing quality.” Kehoe Ironworks held on when many ironworks went out of business, but eventually it too succumbed to the changing taste and stylistic changes of the city.
Local businessman Charles Morris’ plans for the old Kehoe Iron Works Machine Shop were unveiled during a Savannah Historic Board of Review meeting in October of 2012. The property is anchored by the hulking corrugated metal building, which has fallen into disrepair and disuse. Morris intends to stabilize, rehabilitate, reface, and add on to the machine shop with an eye toward creating a special event space. “This is the only building of its type within the Historic District,” said Jerry Lominack with Lominack Kolman Smith Architects, who is heading the project, “and the Kehoe Iron Works has a significant place in Savannah’s history.”
(Elizabeth Carpenter Piechocinski, Men of Iron, Men of Stone, Feet of Clay, 2006.)
(Carol Ann Causey, “William Kehoe: Fulfilling the American Dream, Armstrong State College, 1991.)
(Adam Van Brimmer, “Retooling Ahead for Kehoe Machine Shop,” Savannah Morning News, 2012.)