Workshop of the World

stories of industry in & around Philadelphia

Pasted Graphic
"Ontario Mills, Arrott Steam Power Mills Co." (1893), Hexamer #2720.

Ontario Mills
, 1881
West side of Second Street, between Montgomery and Columbia Avenues, Philadelphia PA 19122

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

A Hexamer General Survey 1 indicates that the Ontario Mills were built in 1881 and 1882 by the Arrott Steam Power Mills Company. William Arrott's Mills were erected as a financial investment with special attention paid to fire-proofing in an effort to reduce the number of mill fires. 2 Arrott's five fire-proof mills were some of the very few owned by a corporation; most mills in Philadelphia were owned by family firms and partnerships. 3
The mill buildings stood back to back on Philip and Second Streets; and have changed little in appearance since they were built. Both wings of the mill were of brick, with five storys, and a row of windows for the basement. The wing of the mill on Second Street had stair towers at each end with metal platforms on every floor, surprisingly, these were not fire escapes. The wing extended 172 feet along Second Street, with 16 bays. In 1884 the mills were rented to five tenants, who produced both cotton and woolen yarn and goods.
4 On the 1888 and 1885 Baist's atlases these buildings were identified as the Ontario Woolen Mills. However, the 1893 survey listed as a tenant the Ontario Spinning Mills, producing cotton yarn, as well as four other tenants, including the owners, the Arrott Steam Power Mills, Co. In 1916 the Ontario Spinning Company was listed at an address on the correct block of Philip Street, with 50 employees the same number as in 1893. 5 An atlas of 1922 placed the Ontario Mills on Second Street and the Arrott Steam Power Mills on Philip Street. Neither were listed in the 1943 textile industry survey. At this time the Heidelberger Confectioner Co. occupied the premises; a later industrial use is indicated by a sign painted above the first floor proclaiming "Master Chef Foods, Inc.—Institutional Grocers."

1   Hexamer General Survey #1844 (1884), "Ontario Mills, Arrott Steam Power Mills Co."
2   Scranton, Proprietary Capitalism, p. 343.
3   Scranton, Proprietary Capitalism, Chapter 3.
4   Hexamer General Survey #1844 (1884), "Ontario Mills, Arrott Steam Power Mills Co."
5   Department of Labor and Industry, Pennsylvania, 1916, p. 1307; and Hexamer General Survey #2720 (1893), "Ontario Mills, Arrott Steam Power Mills Co."

Update May 2007 (by Torben Jenk):