Workshop of the World

stories of industry in & around Philadelphia

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West facade along Howard Street (2007).

Quaker City Dye Works, 1875
100-110 West Oxford Street, Philadelphia PA 19122
(occupies most of the block bounded by Oxford, Front, Howard, and Jefferson Streets—except for the houses along Jefferson Street)

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

A Hexamer General Survey placed the dyeworks, with owner Rudolph Klauder, on this corner in 1875. 1 Already there were associated chemical laboratories to the east across Hope Street, although at this time they were only one story. The firm manufactured dye, cotton and woolen yarns, and silk. At that time some space in the building was used by a firm across Howard Street, Monitor Carpet Mills, of Dornan, Maybin and Co., for storing carpets. In 1880 Blodget stated that silk dyeing was part of the regular work of this "large establishment." 2 By 1883 Quaker City was the largest dyeworks in the city, with three and four story brick buildings extending to Front Street and employing over 200 persons. 3
 
Textile work in Philadelphia was always diverse, with many workers employed in specialty operations distinct from weaving such as hosiery and carpet manufacturing, spinning, and dyeing and finishing yarns and fabrics. The number of firms in the dyeing and finishing sector of the textile business was exceeded only by firms producing carpets, or hosiery, or cotton and wool goods. In 1882 there were 192 carpet manufacturers, 59 hosiery producers, and 44 dyers and finishers in Kensington.
4
 
In 1895 Quaker dyeworks was still in business at this location but the ownership may have changed; in 1892 Klauder and Brother had a smaller dyeworks in Kensington proper.
5 By 1910 the operations and ownership definitely had changed; the Bromley atlas noted an O'Neill Bros. Woolen Mill on the site, but their main product was waste textile materials. 6 In 1916 the O'Neill Bros. firm employed ninety people, they operated only the mill buildings, the laboratory of the dye works became the Oxford Mills, a carpet firm. In 1945, the firm continued to occupy the site manufacturing the same product, and the number of employees increased from eighty-nine in 1940 to one-hundred-twelve in 1943. 7
 
O'Neill Bros. goes back to 1891 where a Hexamer insurance map located them at the triangular property formed by Columbia Avenue, and Putnam and Howard Streets, one block north of what was the Quaker City Dyeworks. Here they were producing shoddy and waste, before moving to the larger mill. Shoddy is waste wool, recovered from textile operations, with enough fiber length to make use of it again; mungo is a similar product of a shorter fiber, and therefore lower quality.
 
Today all buildings are occupied by Pieri Creations.

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1   Hexamer General Survey #836 (1875) "Quaker City Dye Works, Rudolph Klauder."
2   Blodget, The Textile Industries of Philadelphia, p. 50.
3   Blodget, Census of Manufactures, p. 67.
4   Scranton, Proprietary Capitalism, p. 321, Table 9.1.
5   Hexamer General Survey #2631 (1892) "Klauder & Brothers Dye Works."
6   Bromley, 1910.
7   Chamber of Commerce and Board of Trade, Philadelphia, p. 42; and, Sanborn Map Company, 1945.


Update May 2007 (by Torben Jenk):
Pieri Creations made and imported lamps and lamp shades. A recent Zoning Notice stated "To create 1 lot from 19, demolish a one-story addition, build 42 dwelling units in building #1, build 48 dwelling units in building #2, 90 dwelling units total, 76 open-air parking spaces, none for handicap."