Architectural Iron Works ,Sam J. Creswell Philadelphia.
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    Default Architectural Iron Works ,Sam J. Creswell Philadelphia.

    I came on this site by accident and had remembered that member Northern Singer had posted about his familyís iron works in Philadelphia.
    A search for Iron works on the parent site of this link turned up this link with a layout map .
    I thought Northern Singer might like to see it if he hasnít already .

    Architectural Iron Works ,Sam J Creswell Philadelphia
    Architectural Iron Works

    Here is the main site
    Greater Philadelphia GeoHistory Network

    and the available resources on the site
    Hexamer General Surveys - Search

    Some other links that may be of interest that have been mentioned in other threads.

    William Sellers
    Gresson & Smith Machine Works, William Sellers & Co. Iron Works, Reading Railroad Co., James Moore Bush Hill Iron Works

    Sugar Machinery
    unfortunately I can't save a direct link to the sugar machinery so you can drop down the products made windaow and choose it .
    Hexamer General Surveys - Search
    Wm. Bement
    Wm. Bement & Son Industrial Works
    Regards,
    Jim
    Last edited by Jim Christie; 11-06-2011 at 07:20 PM. Reason: Edit sugar machinery link

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    Thanks, Jim. Though I couldn't get any of those links to work this morning I know I have been to that site and think I have seen all of those listed. I don't know why the links are not working, but believe it is the site and not the link, at least today.

    In 1994, when my father died, my family--advised by a leading Philadelphia archivist and historian--disposed of two full sets of Philadelphia atlases that my father had treasured for years (and had used in his real estate business, to some extent). At the time this seemed like a good idea, as the two sets were comprised of folio sized books, many volumed, and contained in large cabinets with roller shelves. Even then I was saving what I could but did not believe I could properly save these and have long thought I made a mistake in this.

    I don't know if I have shown either of these two photographs of the Creswell Iron Works before, here. This one, shows one of its buildings about 1915, I think:



    and this one shows me standing in about 2006 in back of a portion of the same building:



    I own a ninth of the building at present (and like the idea a lot) but the future of the real estate is not much in my hands.

    I do hope to have an internet site set up for my Creswell information, I have a fair amount.

    Thanks again.

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    Northensinger ,
    Thanks for posting you photos .
    I don't recall seeing them earlier but perhaps it was before I started looking at this forum.
    History is more interesting when you can follow the family connections.
    I couldn't get the links to work earlier either but they seem to be working now.
    Maybe when you get your website set up you can post a link to it on the forum so we can check it out.
    Regards,
    Jim

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    Robert-

    By "ironworks" (& judging by what look like flasks outside in the early picture); was this primarily a foundry, as opposed to ornamental (hammered) wrought iron?

    If so, do you have records of some of the major projects for which architectural iron was poured? When did Cresswell start pouring for architectural elements? I've worked on some "fireproof" buildings from the 19th c with extensive interior ironwork; and of course have see many old buildings with CI facades.

    I've always been curious about the days when an architect could draw up some fairly fancy ironwork door jambs, heads, baseboard, and deep high crowns, with acanthus, egg & dart, etc, etc, and just put it on the prints understanding that several bidders capable of modeling, moulding, and pouring it would be sure to show up. Not even a question "can we get this made some where? It was understood.

    smt

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    The internet never ceases to amaze me.
    When I lived in Philly I worked right around the corner at 22nd St. and Arch for 10 years.
    Everyday I parked across the the street from these buildings and wondered what they used to be.
    Now I know.
    Very cool bit of history, even if I likely won't ever see them again!

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    Yep, the business, started in 1835 (I have a mid 1800's advertisement framed and hanging on my wall) was mostly foundry work. Late 19th century advertisments and catalogs (I have a batch) always state that they did both foundry and other iron but it is clear to me that 'blacksmithing' (which is what they called the other work) was a much smaller part of the business.

    I have a lot of professional photographs of their cast ornamental iron work. I think this was a main aspect of the business in the early 20th century. lamps, lamp posts, subway entrances, etc.

    My family bought in in 1952 (I have a nice, detailed, lengthy hardbound appraisal of the business from 1951 when the negotiating was going on--that was my father's task, he was in his mid-thirties--that lists all the machinery in the pattern shop, erecting shop, smithing shop, etc). At that time the foundry was, I think, mostly producing road appurtenances, like manhole covers and storm grates and the steel part of the business was about equal. A 1958 advertisement gives equal size to steel and cast iron aspects, saying

    "Structural and Ornamental Iron Work, Light structural steel--Steel Stairs--Ornamental nRailings--Pipe Railing--Grating Weldments--Plant Production Accessories" for the steel business and "Cast Iron Products, Manhole Covers and Frames for Roadway and Building Trades--Sewer Inlets--Clean-Out Doors--Ingot Molds--Pattern Making for Special Castings"

    Not long after that, I worked there, 1964 or so.

    The flasks that show in that photograph are the large ones (which is why they were stored on the city's sidewalks). I certainly wish I had more paper (though I've got sveral files drawers) from this firm, and I could have, I think. But--in the early nineteen-seventies when the business moved from the 1890's site we are talking about here (and then again, in 1985, when the business shut down after 150 years) it was a pretty odd idea to be saving these things, though I did some.

    Just to have another picture, here is the drafting office, during WW II:



    I think the fellow with the jacket on is 'Old Man Biddle,' (Maurice Biddle, as my father called him to me when talking about him after his death, who, at the time of the photograph, had already owned the place for 30-40 years). The pattern shop is through the windows at the back.

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    Jim-

    a person could lose a lot of time on those links! The Dearborn Foundry Co produced products like some i'm familiar with.

    All the trim in this room is CI. Baseboards, casings, crown, and the stuff along the bottom of the arches at the ceiling coffers. Doors & floor are wood, though.



    Here's a more contemporary view, toward the far end of the same room in the B & W above.
    Again, all that painted "woodwork" is CI.



    Corridors - again, all that white stuff is CI. The stair balusters are brass and there are thousands, not all the same, either...



    Robert, I was wondering if you knew of any specific buildings Cresswell outfitted during their long tenure. You mention subways, is their work in the Philly subway? Some of the older NYC street stations?

    smt

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    I have been pressed for time to provide a good answer ... and don't have it yet. But will try to respond tonight. I don't have the amount of detail I'd like by a long shot, but I do have some 'portfolio' photographs (that don't have much additional information, and I did save what seemed to me to be an unusually detailed baluster pattern which I can phtograph. I;d also like to photograph the large old drawing I have framed of their circular stairways, I believe they sold a lot of these (these were a stock item, though).

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    I have just tried to scan several of the professional 'portfolio' photographs of iron work (and some of patterns) that I saved from the Creswell Iron Works. Two problems present themselves. First, I was not able to scan these well; many of the large scale photographs are bigger than my scanner bed and many of the photographs are mounted on boards and do not lie flat. Second, I do not know how to send the created scans--bad as they were in these first tries--to a site such as this--I've tried I can't get this to function. I could, I think, photograph the photographs and send these but this seems cumberson and amateurish also.

    I did photograph a few items. One, an ornamental baluster pattern:





    This has been hanging on my wall for years and was the only example or ornamental iron work I noticed--among all the street appurtenance and plumbing patterns that were there in my recollection. You can see in the detail photograph a wax repair of the pattern.

    Here is a photograph and a detail of a nice ink on linen drawing or a stock circular staircase (i've had this framed on my wall for years also):





    And here (also framed on my wall) is a mid 19th century advertisement for the business:



    This dates from before the ornamental iron period and shows stoves mainly.


    And here is a late 19th century photograph of the exterior of one of the Creswell buildings, with business officers, in which a few pieces of cast iron--including that Corinthian pilaster capital that is upside down on the sidewalk--can be seen--I often walked there about 70 years later; the building is now demolished. The medallion on the wall, by the door's side, reads S.J. Creswell Iron Works, I think.




    I'm afraid that the architectural iron pieces are more represented in the early 20th century and I'm not yet capable of presenting these here, though I most certainly hope to, I'd very much, in fact, like to develop a web site of all my Creswell material.

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    Nothernsinger ,
    It was nice of you to take the time to post your pictures and information .
    Taking photos of other pictures in place of scanning can work rather well at times and not so well with others .
    I did it more often when I didnít have a scanner .
    I had some pictures scanned on a large commercial digital photocopier that were still in the frame right through the glass and they came out surprisingly well .
    Something you could try in the future for your web site if it would save you taking apart a framed picture .
    It is a bit tricky with a camera to shoot through the glass but if you can get enough indirect background light and use the camera without a flash at a bit of an angle rather than straight on .
    That sometimes has worked for me.

    I had remembered reading a while ago about Iron Stair building in the print copy I have of this book .
    International Library of Technology: A Series of Textbooks for Persons ... : International Textbook Company : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive
    Ornamental Iron Work starts here
    International Library of Technology: A Series of Textbooks for Persons ...

    Something about building Circular stairs similar to the ones shown in your drawings
    International Library of Technology: A Series of Textbooks for Persons ...

    Wrought iron work section starts here.
    International Library of Technology: A Series of Textbooks for Persons ...

    For those who can see full text views on Google Books, if this book is available there you may be able to see more of the drawings some of which seem to be missing in the scans made for this link.
    Regards,
    Jim

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    Hi northernsinger! I happened on this site while researching my family genealogy. Samuel J. Creswell was my great, great grandfather, his son David my great grandfather. I was really excited to see your pictures, having found only a few on other internet sites.I would love to know more of my family history, and any information that you could share would be very much appreciated.

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    Pamela, thanks for your note. I'd like to know more about your family, too. (And, by the way, I once corresponded with another member of your family about this, also.)

    I've just sent you what is called here a 'private message.' See if you can receive this, and see if you can private message me back. Thanks.

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