Workshop of the World

stories of industry in & around Philadelphia

Van Aken Printing Co., c.1850
223 East Girard Avenue, Philadelphia PA 19125

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

The building at 223 East Girard Avenue survives as an example of the mixed use of residential properties along Fishtown's major transportation arteries. Constructed before 1850, the three-story brick dwelling, two bays wide on the upper stories, has a lobbied storefront with side entrance and a rear frame ell. The topmost portion of the storefront window proclaims "The Van Aken Printing Co." An elaborate, decorative metal cornice caps the main elevation. Another ornamented cornice crowns the storefront and is supported by wooden pilasters capped with metal brackets. A covered alley on the east side of the building leads to a rear yard.

The first record of a printing shop at 223 East Girard Avenue appears in the 1893 annual report of the William Cramp & Sons Engine and Shipbuilding Company. The report gives the name of the firm that printed it - "Moyer & Lesher Steam-Power Printers" - and the firm's address. In 1883, Moyer & Lesher was located at 242 Richmond Street in Fishtown and employed three men. In 1916, an industrial census listed Moyer & Lesher as printers and publishers employing three men at 223 East Girard Avenue. A printing shop has operated at this address for most of this century. In 1969, the property was purchased by William Van Aken, who sold it to the present owners in 1973. They continue to operate a printing shop.

Update May 2007 (by Torben Jenk):
Now Bella Vista Printing.