Workshop of the World

stories of industry in & around Philadelphia

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Craftex Mills, Inc., 1923
1806 Venango Street, Philadelphia PA 19134
(southeast corner of Ruth Street)

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

In 1923 Herman Blum purchased an old mill in Kensington and began a textile company. 1 The Craftex firm made rayon upholstery fabric. Produced as a specialty item on a Jacquard loom, the bright polychrome brocade was designed to reflect a "renaissance" style and had the appearance of silk. The fabric required skilled burlers in the final inspection and repair of small flaws.
The firm has continued to operate throughout the twentieth century under the control of the Blum and Seder families, adapting its production to demand. The complex, now composed of one, two, and three story brick buildings, employed 93 people in 1943.
2 In the 1950s, a contract with General Motors led to the production of durable automobile seat upholstery. Similar fabrics were then produced for commercial airline seats and office furniture upholstery.  With a branch plant in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, the Kensington location still operates as the administrative headquarters. Approximately 100 people are employed here in the design and finishing, including burling, of Craftex products. 3

1   Jean Seder, Voices of Kensington: Vanishing Mills, Vanishing Neighborhoods, (Ardmore, 1982)
2   Chamber of Commerce and Board of Trade, Philadelphia, p. 37
3   Interview with Robert Blum, (1989).

Update May 2007 (by Torben Jenk):
Mostly vacant. An auto repair shop and commercial laundry operate on the first floor along Ruth Street. The water tower remains, with white lettering on green proclaiming "CRAFTEX MILLS."