Workshop of the World

stories of industry in & around Philadelphia

Albert Schoenhut and Company, c.1901
2215-2217 East Hagert Street (formerly Adams), Philadelphia PA 19125

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

Albert Schoenhut began producing toy pianos in a storefront on Frankford Avenue in 1872. By the 1880s A. Schoenhut and Company, manufacturers of novelty toys as well as toy pianos, moved into a larger building at 621-623 Adams (now Hagert) Street. By 1901, the company employed 125 workers at its enlarged factory on Adams Street, and built an office and "warerooms" at 2215-2217 Adams Street. Giant dolls, model cannons and other novelties, in addition to toy pianos, reached a national market. Five of Albert Schoenhut's six sons joined the business in the twentieth century: Albert F., William G., Harry E., Gustav A., and Otto F. A new five story factory stood on the corner of Adams and Sepviva Streets, eventually enclosing five and a half acres of floor space and holding four hundred employees by 1907. However, toy sales diminished after the Depression and the company declared bankruptcy in 1935. 1
The large five story factory no longer stands; however, the building at 2215-2217 Adams (now Hagert) Street remains. This five story five bay brick building has two pressed tin spandrels on the second floor. The Letterly Street side consists of another brick building three stories high, with an elaborate wooden cornice and wooden lintels and sills. Although a 1901 advertisement indicates this building housed an office and "warerooms," toy pianos were also built at this location.
The building now stands abandoned and plans exist for its demolition.

1   Philip Scranton and Walter Licht, Work Sights: Industrial Philadelphia, 1890-1950 (Philadelphia, 1986), pp. 79-83.

Update May 2007 (by Torben Jenk):
Demolished about 1996 and now mostly a vacant lot north to Letterly Street. A sliver of the party wall remains attached to the house to the west (#2213). Neighbors remember the building being used to make furniture frames, but not upholstery.