Workshop of the World

stories of industry in & around Philadelphia

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Southern facade along Columbia / C.B. Moore Avenue, between Mascher Street (at right) and Hancock Street. Embedded in the brick above the cars is a cast iron sign stating "W.P. Uhlinger."

Columbia Works, 1867-
Eagle Bolt Works, 1875-
155 Cecil B. Moore Avenue, Philadelphia PA 19122
(north side of formerly Columbia Avenue between Hancock Street and Mascher Street)

Carmen A. Weber, Irving Kosmin, and Muriel Kirkpatrick, Workshop of the World (Oliver Evans Press, 1990).

The first building on this irregular corner where Columbia Avenue angles across Mascher Street was a three story brick building erected in 1867. 1 It housed the Columbia Works of W.P. Uhlinger, which manufactured school desks and power looms. The main building served as a machine shop with wood sawing, planing, and varnishing rooms. Behind the building was the engine room, blacksmith shop, and sheds for storing wood and iron stock. As Uhlinger manufactured power looms it is probable he was related to the Uhlinger who later established a large textile machine works on Glenwood Avenue at 2nd Street, where the name still appears painted above the first story. In 1883 Uhlinger was located further south on Canal Street where he was "especially occupied with improved looms and other textile machinery." 2
 
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images Freedley, Philadelphia and its Manufactures (1867), p. 356-358.

A survey of 1875 3 indicated the change of ownership and the addition of several more substantial brick buildings to the main factory on the corner. Called Eagle Bolt Works, the owners, Keim and Welsh, manufactured bolts and nuts in a one story machine and hammer shop, with clearstory, extending 175 feet along Hancock Street. This building had an ell, also with clearstory, housing the "Oliver" shop. The oliver was an old type of smith's hammer, operated by a treadle, with the hammer held off the work by a spring pole. As with the previous operation here, there was a blacksmith shop, an engine room, and various storage sheds, and the triangular plot of ground formed by the angle of Columbia Avenue is still a garden. At this date the second and third floors of the main building are leased to John Scanlin and Son who employ 50 hands on 60 power looms to weave cotton and woolen goods.
 
In 1888 Eagle Bolt Works still occupied the whole property, but an 1887 atlas indicated Thomas Van Antwerp was then the owner, neither atlas noted the industrial activity in the buildings.
4 The 1891 Hexamer insurance map clearly showed the bolt works smithing operations but the owners were now Welsh and Lea, and the Vaughn and Bower hosiery mill replaced the Scanlin weaving firm. 5
 
Some time after this a triangular-shaped extension was added to the building on the odd corner. This two story building had a corbelled brick cornice with a crossed-brick design that linked it to Dolan's and the Scotch Snuff Mill on the block to the south.
 
In 1895 an atlas showed that the property on the south end of the block switched to the profitable leather-working industry, a later atlas associated the name of Margaret I. Illingworth with the "Calf-Kid Works."
6
 
In 1922 the industrial process changed again and the buildings became a paper box factory, owned by Donaldson et al.
7 In 1945 paper boxes continued to be made by the John C(r)ompton-Adelphia Corporation, a joining of two companies who earlier were listed at other addresses in the west Kensington area. 8 Today a sign along Mascher Street identifies a part of the building as the Philadelphia Carpenter Machinery Co., a return to an aspect of its initial use.

1   "Columbia Works, W.P. Uhlinger" - Hexamer #304.
2   Blodget, Census of Manufactures, p. 69.
3   "Eagle Bolt Works, Keim & Welsh" (1875) - Hexamer #891.
4   George W. Baist, Baist's Atlas of the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, complete in one volume, (Philadelphia, 1888); and Bromley, 1887.
5   Hexamer and Son, 1891.
6   George W. Bromley, Atlas of the City of Philadelphia, complete in one volume, (Philadelphia, 1895); and Bromley, 1910.
7   Bromley, 1922.
8   Sanborn Map Company, 1945.


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Update May 2007 (by Torben Jenk):
The triangular section at the southwest, which followed the bend in Columbia Avenue, was removed within the last decade and a cast iron plaque was revealed stating "W.P. UHLINGER." The one-story section along Hancock Street suffered bulging walls and the roof was removed within the last decade; the stuccoed walls remain. Now used by a cabinetmaker and for various studio spaces.