100 Red River St.
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 iron worker. 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. Lepperdinger taught Fortunat the intricacies of iron crafting, which he brought with him to America. 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 took the SS Breslau and landed in Philadelphia, 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. In 1935, he moved his ironworks to this site.
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. Read more about the Weigls and the history of this building at the Iron Works BBQ website.