The Sixth and Germantown Avenue foundry in an 1862 map. The buildings around the open foundry yard (below) still show quite clearly. The interactive map viewer allows for a wider appreciation of the area in which it sat.
The Hexamer Survey of the Penn Stove Works in 1878 -- The 5-storey building on Dauphin was built in about 1870, possibly replacing a smaller original; the rest in 1862.
|Design Patent 382 -- the "Irving Airtight" Cooking Stove, 1851|
|Design Patent 383 -- The Domestic Air Tight, 1851.|
It looks as if the design may have been sold (assigned to) a New York City maker.
|Advertisement in Freedley, Philadelphia and Its Manufactures (1867 ed.), p. 460. [For full citations, see at end. The links all worked, as of 27 Jan. 2018] Freedley notes: |
The "Excelsior Stove Works," on Girard avenue and Marshall street, of which Messrs. ISAAC A. SHEPPARD & Co are proprietors, are fitted up with a full assortment of modern patterns and appliances for the manufacture of Stoves, Heaters, Ranges, and Hollow Ware. They employ from seventy to eighty men, and melt from twelve to fifteen hundred tons of iron per year. The gentlemen in charge of these works are men of large experience in iron founding, and as a result of their experience, they have found they can produce castings of greater strength and tenacity from a proper mixture of brands of American Iron, than from Scotch Iron, and consequently they use only American Iron of the best brand. Besides Stoves, etc., Messrs. Sheppard & Co make castings for Plumbers, in fact all kinds of light and fine castings
|From Scharf, History of Baltimore City and County, p. 428. Sheppard divided his time about 2/3 Philadelphia, 1/3 Baltimore during the branch plant's first 5-6 years, and by 1881 it employed about 150 hands and melted 40 tons of iron a day. This factory covered the whole block between Eastern and Canton Avenues (now Fleet Street), and Chester and Castle Streets. The company closed in 1933, but the building survived in recognizable form until at least 1980. The site has since been entirely cleared and is now occupied by a Burger King and a Royal Farms Gas Station and their car parks. Scharf also has, opp. p. 428, a fine engraving of a rather younger Sheppard than the photograph below shows.|
|Another version of the same view in an 1880s billhead -- resolution is poor, but it's more or less legible. Only three of Sheppard's old partners were still alive, and his college-educated son Franklin had joined the firm.|
|The Isaac Sheppard House today.|
From the beginning of its career the firm encountered the most determined opposition from the older establishments, which, to drive their young rivals' products from the markets, in many instances sold their own wares below cost. Mr. Sheppard had been too well schooled in trials and adversity in his earlier years to be overcome or even intimidated by those he now encountered. A born manager, as well as a thorough workman, he persevered despite the bitterest opposition, and although he was obliged to compete at ruinous prices with much wealthier firms and combinations avowedly seeking to destroy his business at its inception, he persevered without flinching, and by the close of the third year  had the pleasure of finding that his tactics had prevailed, that opposition had been conquered, and that his business was at last firmly established on its merits. During the critical period of the Civil War and the years immediately following, Mr. Sheppard's energetic management sustained his business through many and severe trials. [p. 37]
|The arrow points to Sheppard's home, a few minutes round the corner. From the 1875 G.M. Hopkins Philadelphia Atlas -- see Map Viewer.|
The Excelsior Stove Works, c. 1870. The online version permits enlargement and easier legibility. There does not seem to have been any raw material storage space on site. The main molding floor is 144 x 49 feet, with a c. 20 x 50 annex, total c. 8,000 square feet.
|1873 Hexamer Insurance survey -- zoomable version. The new foundry was 350 x 65 feet, c. 24,000 square feet, i.e. three times as large as the old, with two cupola furnaces. The legend to the plan says that there was an 1859 building on the site (the old railroad depot) when he bought it in 1871, and he built his additions in 1872-1873. He and his partners employed 250 people, two-thirds men, the rest boys, suggesting that these ex-union activists were not averse to diluting skilled labor with cheaper employees. Six men worked in his on-site pattern shop. All power came from a 30 h.p. steam engine.|
The Excelsior Works, ten years later (1882) -- by which time the proportion of boys had declined to a quarter, though there were still only 250 employees. See zoomable version for more detail and legibility.
|Principal recent changes were (a) extension of buildings 2-3-4-5 fronting on Montgomery Avenue, and (b) new cupolas, with pollution-controlling cowls, and an overhead rope system for carrying anthracite and pig iron to them; or is it a rope drive from the engine house to the blowers and freight elevators serving each cupola?|
|There is a good online copy of a lively 1876 engraving of the plant which gives more detail, including the ?rope drive, but not the cowls; instead, it shows why they were needed, probably as spark- and dust-arresters. It truncates the long buildings to the rear of the front block, probably to suit the dimensions of the print better. I can't reproduce it here because there is a fee. But there are no such restrictions on the above, less clear version, which is almost as serviceable.|
|The Excelsior Stove Works, from the 1895 G.W. Bromley Philadelphia Atlas -- see Map Viewer. The principal changes in twenty years were the transformation of the Reading Railroad corridor along American Street into a packed industrial district.|
|All that is left of the site today -- basically, the street grid, and not even all of that -- the stretch of Montgomery south of the plant is now grassed over.|
|The Sheppard School, from this page -- does the plaque over the door memorialize Isaac himself? I hope so! See also this image of the other side of the building, and this, in its prime.|