Workshop of the World

stories of industry in & around Philadelphia

Pasted Graphic
"Dougherty & Downs Rectifying Works" (1879), Hexamer #1425.

B & B DYERS
, c.1865-c.1923
1337-1349 Frankford Avenue, 1324-1330 Crease Street, Philadelphia PA 19125

Stuart Paul Dixon, Workshop of the World (Oliver Evans Press, 1990).

The B & B Dyers complex currently consists of four buildings fronting on Frankford Avenue and two buildings facing Crease Street, all of brick construction. The oldest portion of the complex is composed of the buildings at 1347-1349 and 1345 Frankford. The two-story building, four bays wide, at 1347-1349 Frankford Avenue, dates from about 1865. 1 The four bays on the first story have been recently altered, but the upper story reflects the original window placement, in spite of its being covered with louvered-metal canopies. The northeastern corner of the building has a square draft stack with a corbeled top as well as a gable-roofed dormer. A one-story brick rear wing connects the building to the rear of those facing Crease Street.
 
The two-story, two-bay building at 1345 Frankford also dates to about 1865. A slight change of color in the brick between the first and second floors indicates that the second story may have been added after the building was constructed.
2 The upper-story bays have steel industrial sash and louvered-metal canopies similar to those at 1347-1349 Frankford. A raised-brick rectangle adorns the area above the second-story bay openings, and on the north side of the first story, a brass sign proclaims "B & B Dyers." There is no entrance off Frankford Avenue into the building, mirroring the structure's appearance in an 1879 insurance survey.
 
A one-story, three-bay structure with a parapet-gable roof stands at 1341-1343 Frankford Avenue. Dating from circa 1890, the building has had several alterations. Adjacent to it, at 1337-1339 Frankford, is a two-story brick building with a parapet roof; it dates to about 1920. This building has five bays on the second story; the first floor bays were probably similar in design, but presently there are only three bays.
 
The two buildings to the rear of the Frankford Avenue properties at 1324 to 1330 Crease Street are two-story structures. The four-bay brick building to the north (1328-1330 Crease) has a square brick chimney stack with a corbeled peak at its southwest corner.  The two and one-half story building adjacent to it at 1324-1326 Crease Street contains two bays on the lower and upper levels, both altered by concrete blocks and iron grates.  A mansard dormer is centered on the metal-sheathed roof.
 
Deed transactions show that three brothers, William H., Charles A., and John A. Dougherty, purchased property along Frankford Avenue in 1868 from William King. The two buildings located at 1345 and 1347-1349 Frankford were probably constructed by King, listed in an 1866 city directory as an alcohol, coal oil, and fluid manufacturer at that address. An 1870 city directory indicates that 1349 Frankford Avenue was then occupied by Dougherty Bros., "rectifiers of cologne spirits, alcohol, etc." In the same year, the three brothers, known as J. A. Dougherty's Sons, were "distillers of fine rye whiskey" at 1134 North Front Street, one block west of the Frankford Avenue location; the Dougherty family had been distilling grains at the Front Street building since 1861.
 
In 1877, John A. Dougherty and Abel D. Downs purchased the two Frankford Avenue buildings and soon constructed a two-story brick storehouse for high wine behind their distilling and rectifying building at 1347-1349 Frankford Avenue.
3 According to an 1879 Hexamer General Survey, six men worked at Dougherty & Downs Rectifying Works, manufacturing alcohol and rectifying spirits from high wine at the Frankford Avenue complex. A one-story frame boiler house and an adjoining two-story frame condenser house stood behind the one-story brick office at 1345 Frankford. The rear buildings along Crease Street consisted of a barrel-gluing shop, carriage house, and stable.  Late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century atlases identify the complex as an "Alcohol Factory."
 
In 1923, the heirs of Dougherty & Downs sold the rectifying works to Eugene P. Bachman, Sr., one of the present owners of B & B Dyers. Bachman had previously been in the electroplating, engraving and die-sinking business at 709 Sansom Street, where he employed two men. B & B dyed and finished textiles at the Frankford Avenue site, employing 52 persons in 1941 and 71 in 1943. In 1957, the buildings contained boilers, dynamos, and stokers. B & B discontinued operation in 1989.

1  Hexamer General Survey #1425 (1879) "Dougherty & Downs Rectifying Works."
2  The 1879 Hexamer General Survey map of the complex describes a one-story building with similar treatment was erected at this address in 1865.
3  High wine refers to any distilled product, usually vinegar or alcohol.


Update May 2007 (by Torben Jenk):
Vacant.