Fortunat Weigl was born on March 21, 1884 in Bad Aibling, Germany (Bavaria). His father, Joseph, was the Bürgermeister (mayor) of Bad Aibling, and an ironworker.
He sold and repaired bicycles, repaired machine parts, made tools, and did some decorative iron work, but he did not shoe horses.
Fortunat was apprenticed at the iron shop of a man named Prester in Bad Reichenhall. It was here that he met and studied under Hans Lepperdinger, one of the top decorative ironsmiths of southern Germany.
By the time Fortunat Weigl emigrated to America in 1913, he was married to Anna Schmidtschneider (smith who cuts). In preparation for their move, the Weigls sold all their possessions except what they could carry to Texas.
They then sailed around the Florida peninsula and followed the coast to Galveston, where they disembarked for Austin. They were met at the train station by Anton Stasswender, a friend from Germany who had preceded them to Austin.
Weigl first worked as a plumber. He was slow to acquire proficiency in English, so he worked for a German plumber until he could get established.
When the old Main Post Office was being built at 6th and Lavaca streets, the supervisor was German-speaking Willie Dieter, who hired Weigl to help in the construction. He was offered the opportunity to do some iron work and later established his own business, which was moved several times.
Weigl forged many fences that are still standing today, such as the fence at the Hirshfeld House, the Smith House, and other decorative works. Examples of Weigl's work are evident all over Austin.
The building now hosts the Ironworks BBQ, with Texan brisket & cornbread. Check out how the restaurant owners honor the building's history.
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