Jeweler by the Falls

Three years ago, when a realtor showed Larry Bruno the land on which his new store sits, the jeweler instantly grasped the possibilities. He could site the store at the edge of the glacial gorge of Scollard Run, directly across from Springfield Falls, a beautiful natural wonder, which is now mostly on his property. His windows would frame magnificent views of the falls, and Bruno could invite customers who made major purchases to have their photos taken at the foot of the waterfall, turning his store into a romantic destination.

The IJO member jeweler, whose previous store was in Hermitage, Pa., noted other advantages. The area around Springfield Falls, in the heart of Pennsylvania’s old iron and steel region, had recently become a popular shopping and tourist destination. A high-fashion outlet mall, Prime Outlets at Grove City, was drawing tourists from Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and cities as far away as Toronto. The verdant, hilly countryside is dotted with picturesque small towns, art and antiques stores, and several great local restaurants, Bruno says.

Bruno also discovered that a historic early 19th-century iron furnace was practically buried beneath the cliff on which his store is perched. A retired professor from Youngstown State University in Ohio approached him about excavating the site. The jeweler welcomed the professor’s team of archeologists and, for the past three years, joined them every Friday and Saturday morning as they meticulously unearthed the buried treasure.

Now, in addition to the waterfall, the jeweler has opened up the iron furnace ruin to visitors, placing signage to explain the furnace’s historic significance [see box]. He also restored the original 19th century house, adjacent to the store, in which the ironmaster lived, now a venue for events and art exhibitions.

Bruno realized almost immediately that the design of his store had to suit the glorious location. A lifelong fan of architect Frank Lloyd Wright and his naturalistic settings, the jeweler wanted his store to blend organically into its surroundings. He also wanted to fill it with treasures and motifs that honored the site’s history.

In the pictorial essay that follows, you can see the results.