Construction and repair facilities were essential to the maintenance of a military post in the wilderness. A list of the working shops compiled by Colonel Snelling in 1824 mentions a bakeshop, blacksmith, carpenter, armorer, wheelwright and harness shops.
The stone building served as shops only until 1839. A second floor and porch were added, and the structure transformed into the new hospital. After the Civil War, in 1878, the military converted the building into laundress quarters and added a frame addition facing the old hospital, nearly doubling its size. The building was demolished in 1891.
Because 1839 construction added a wooden floor to cover a dirt blacksmith shop floor, that room has provided a wealth of archaeological information about the operation of the shop in its early years. The brick forge, anvils, work benches and vice are now back in their original locations. The type of metal scraps found in certain areas even indicated which anvil was used to make nails.
Most working trade operations have been recreated in the Shops building. Besides replicating artifacts for use and display on site, skilled workers invite visitors to try their hand using period tools and processes.