Workshop of the World

stories of industry in & around Philadelphia

Glen Willow Ice Manufacturing Co., 1923,
Bartolomeo Pio, Inc. Winery, 1938
10 East Moreland Avenue, Philadelphia PA 19118

Jane Mork Gibson, Workshop of the World (Oliver Evans Press, 1990).

At the time the Glen Willow Ice Manufacturing Company began operations in this building in 1923, iceboxes were in common domestic use and refrigerators had not yet become a part of the average kitchen. It had been customary to supply blocks of ice by cutting ice on ponds during winter months and storing it for later use, as was done in Chestnut Hill and at icehouses throughout Philadelphia, with ice sometimes imported from northern New England and Canada. To meet the large demand, a process for making ice near the distribution points was developed. To manufacture ice, large metal receptacles, or cans, 18" x 36" x 48" were filled with water and immersed in a solution of brine that was subjected to freezing temperatures. Subsequently the cans were lifted out, and the "tubes" of ice were stored in a refrigerated area. 1
At the Glen Willow plant, the ice-making machines were on the left side of the building. After the ice was cut into blocks, it was stored in the right rear section in a refrigerator room. There was a covered loading dock for trucks on the right front in the space now occupied by the yellow brick addition to the building. People who grew up in the neighborhood remember as children being given chunks of ice by the icemen.
The Philadelphia Winery of Bartolomeo Pio, Inc. occupied the building from 1938 to 1964, when the firm was sold to Gallo Brothers.
3 The Pio family has been manufacturing wine for four generations and continues at the present time with a Sales Office in Fort Washington Industrial Park. The Pio vineyards are in Cucamonga, San Bernardino County, California.  During Prohibition, the Pios sold grapes to Italian and German immigrants who would make their own wine. With repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment in 1933, the Pio name was well established for a quality product and there was a ready market for Pio wines. The Pio Philadelphia Winery moved from 11th Street and Washington Avenue in South Philadelphia to Chestnut Hill in 1938.
To make the wine, the Pio family had facilities on both the east and west coast. In Cucamonga, California, the  grapes were grown and harvested, then crushed and the fermentation process begun. The capacity of the Pio Cucamonga Winery was two million gallons. The wine was shipped by rail in glass-lined tank cars to Philadelphia for final aging and bottling. The tank cars were shunted onto a siding of the Reading Railroad just northwest of Willow Grove Avenue, near Wyndmoor Station, and the wine was transported to the winery on Moreland Avenue in a stainless steel tank truck. The Pio Philadelphia Winery had storage capacity for one million gallons for aging in redwood and oak tanks (upright) and casks (on sides). Skilled craftsmen from Europe were brought in to construct the storage facilities. When properly aged, the wine was filtered and bottled at the Philadelphia Winery which could bottle five thousand cases a day.
Bartolomeo Pio, Inc. specialized in dry wines. In the 1960s Gallo Brothers decided to enter the Pennsylvania market and sought to buy out an established firm operating in the state. Bartolomeo Pio, Inc. sold the wineries to Gallo in 1964, but remained in the business with a sales office and continues to market Pio wines. When Gallo took over the operations, the Philadelphia Winery was closed down because by that time there was sufficient glass capacity in California to handle the entire process.
The building was sold to the Willet Stained Glass Studios, and subsequently c.1980 to the Kurtz Construction Company, the present owners, who occupy the eastern end of the building, with Willet renting the western section. There is little indication of the former uses of the building except for a set of tiles depicting the wine-making process, located in the yellow brick 1960 addition to the building. The architect in 1923 was Frank V. Nickels, and Farrel-Roth Construction Co. was the contractor. The original building is a one-story, red brick manufacturing building with corbelled brick cornice, parapet and stone corners appearing at every opening. The openings are recessed. In 1960 Thomas Reilley, architect, designed a one-story, yellow brick addition to the west.

1   Telephone interview with Albert Pio, October 17, 1989.
2   Interview with John Romano, September 8, 1989.  He grew up a few blocks from the site and his family was acquainted with the Pios and with the operations both of the ice facility and the winery.
3   Data in this section are from a telephone interview with Albert Pio on October 17, 1989 and a telephone interview with Helene Weis, Librarian of the Willet Stained Glass Studio.
4   J.M. Moak.

Update May 2007 (by Jane Mork Gibson):
Most of the eastern section of the building is occupied by the Kurtz Construction Company, which specializes in copper and slate roofing. A small portion at the far eastern end of the building is used for art classes and exhibits. It is leased to Delores Bauerle Campbell, who paints, teaches, and exhibits. Art classes are held all year, with exhibits at various times. The building is owned by Stephen Kurtz.

The Willett Stained Glass Studio and Willett Hauser Architectural Glass occupy the western end of the building, which is leased from Stephen Kurtz. Willett Hauser specializes in designing and manufacturing stained glass windows. The company has an international clientele and is one of the few companies that provide this service. The building houses both the offices and the studios that create stained glass components for the trade. The entrance to the building contains a memorial plaque erected in 1960 with the following text: “In memory of pioneering artists William Willett 1867-1921 and Anne Lee Willett 1867-1943 who founded the Willett Studio in 1898 and of George Gugert 1878-1958 who contributed to its ongoing program."