Stories In The Ash

April 30, 2013 | by Peter Woodall


ABC Auto, which burned on Saturday | Photo: Peter Woodall

ABC Auto, which burned on Saturday | Photo: Peter Woodall

The 19th century warehouse at 1815 Sedgely Avenue, which burned on Saturday, was one of the last remnants of a massive industrial zone that extended northwest from the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks west of Broad Street in North Philadelphia. So many of these old manufacturing buildings have been lost, it seems to us, because of their proximity to the railroad, which isolated them from the fabric of the surrounding neighborhoods. This building, where E.J. Rickler manufactured soap at the turn of the century, was the original home of the Weidemann Machine Company, which was established in Philadelphia in 1916. The company apparently developed the “world’s first turret punch press” according to its promotional materials in 1955. A small step in the march of technology to be sure, but one that had to be made by someone nonetheless.

The building had most recently been occupied by ABC Auto, which remanufactured front wheel drive axles as well as other auto parts. ABC operated there into the 1990s and appeared to have done little more than shut off the lights, leaving the artifacts of manufacturing in situ.


About the Author

Peter Woodall Peter Woodall is the Project Director of Hidden City Philadelphia. He is a graduate of the UC Berkeley School of Journalism, and a former newspaper reporter with the Biloxi Sun Herald and the Sacramento Bee. He worked as a producer for Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane and wrote a column about neighborhood bars for


  1. Harold says:

    Danggggg. How did no scrappers get in there and clean that place out? They would have made a fortune.

    1. Ethan Wallace says:

      I had the same thought!

    2. Soldat says:

      Iron and steel and usually not even worth the effort to cut and haul away. I’m sure scrappers carried off all the copper pipes and wiring long ago.

  2. Cyndi Lunsford says:

    I’m wondering if this is the same huge building that I look at at the end of my block daily. It’s fenced off now but I see it at 19th and Lehigh. I’ve recently seen some official looking folks inside the fence at 19th and Lehigh too. Are they about to make this building into the latest too expensive for anyone in the neighborhood to afford condos? It’s way close to the Swampoodle forgotten blocks neighborhood.

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