1978 Michigan City News-Dispatch article "Two Sweeps Climb Ladder to Success"


Steve and Kathy Smitha in chimney sweep garb 1978

Stephen Smitha is not an ordinary business man. He is a chimney sweeper by trade and he takes his business very seriously. "I look at my job as a craft, not just a job to be done," Smitha said. "I believe craftsmanship is lacking in today's businesses." Smitha owns and runs the Top Hat, 204 Lake Avenue. He and his wife go out on jobs together dressed in traditional chimney sweep attire -- a top hat and tails. Smitha's costume was given to him by a customer which is the same way sweeps acquired their costumes in the 1700's.

Smitha had been looking for a business to go into when he came across an article about chimney sweepers in the Mother Earth News. He was intrigued by the business and promptly took a correspondence course through August West Systems. Smitha explains that people don't realize the fire hazard a dirty chimney can be. Fires are caused due to incomplete wood combustion and tar buildup. Last year there were 40,000 chimney fires nationally, causing $23 million damage. Smitha has removed everything from soot to raccoons from chimneys, and at this point, he is the only one in Michigan City doing it. In England there are more sweeps listed in the telephone directory than doctors!

Smitha will be displaying his equipment tomorrow in Washington Park at the Flea Market.