Former 7-Up Bottling Plant On Its Way Down; 25 Townhouses Coming Up

November 22, 2013 |  by  |  Buzz  |  , ,

 

Mildred Court | Image: JKR Partners

Mildred Court | Image: JKR Partners

As demolition continues on Ortlieb’s original brewery in Northern Liberties, another piece of the city’s beverage-making history is going to rubble in South Philadelphia.

The former 7-Up bottling plant between the 800 blocks of Carpenter and Montrose Streets is being cleared to make way for a residential project. Developer US Construction will build 25 townhouses between Eighth, Carpenter, and Montrose Streets on the land occupied by several vacant industrial buildings including the plant, and the canopied loading dock on Eighth Street.

The project, known as Mildred Court, was designed by JKR Partners and approved by the Zoning Board of Adjustment in August. It replaces a humble example of South Philly’s 20th-century vernacular architecture, and a symbol of its Italian entrepreneurial heritage.

Photo: Peter Woodall

Photo: Peter Woodall

Anthony Imbesi founded the 7-Up Bottling Company of Philadelphia in the 1930s to market and distribute the emerging soda product. The extended Imbesi family would become nearly synonymous with the soft beverage industry in the mid-Atlantic region, owning plants in Camden, Wilmington, Baltimore and Salisbury, MD. (While local lore claims that Anthony Imbesi invented the modern-day lemon-lime formula, the 7-Up Company’s official website only notes the formula’s origin in St. Louis in 1929.)

Imbesi later dedicated his fortunes to breeding dogs–his favorite was the English Setter–and thoroughbred horses, for which he purchased training grounds in New Jersey.

When Anthony’s son John took over 7-Up Philadelphia, the company had moved its operations to Conshohocken and in 1995, it was acquired by locally based Beverage Enterprises. John Imbesi then founded the North American Beverage Company, headquartered in Ocean City, NJ, whose product line includes Chocolate Moose and Havana Cappuccino.

However, he also fell into trouble with the law: several former employees filed sexual harassment suits against him after he had left 7-Up. One was awarded $725,000 in damages; another who had accused Imbesi of turning her into his “sex slave” received a settlement out of court.

Former 7-Up Bottling Plant, now under demolition | Image: Googlemaps

Former 7-Up Bottling Plant, now under demolition | Image: Googlemaps

The closest the South Philly 7-Up facility came to historic recognition was a 1995 nomination to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission to erect a marker outside the plant. The nomination, submitted by historian Celeste Morello, was rejected because PHMC “doesn’t endorse products,” as Morello (best known for her written account of the Philadelphia mafia) told the Daily News at the time.

The loss of the bottling plant this week is part of an ongoing transformation of the 800 block of Montrose Street. In 2011, US Construction began erecting houses on the long-empty lot across from the plant. The lot was once occupied by Our Lady of Good Counsel Roman Catholic Church, erected to accommodate a growing Italian immigrant population. The church was closed in 1937, partly due to declining parish enrollment, despite a long dispute with the Archdiocese’s largely Irish-American leadership, and was demolished soon after.

In 2012, US Construction also tore down the former Fante-Leone Swimming Pool, notable for its classical façade at the corner of Darien and Montrose, to make way for more homes.

About the author

Christopher Mote covers stories of preservation, planning, zoning and development. He lives in South Philadelphia and has a special fondness for brownstone churches and mansard roofs.

Send him a message at: motecw[at]hotmail[dot]com



3 Comments


  1. I recall tracking down a brewery address, looking for standing buildings and remember the “street view” of Google maps showed me this 7-Up building. A number of small brewers in South Phila. went into bottling and I wondered whether there was a connection with this property.

  2. I also remember a soda called “Grubers.” They made the best Golden Ginger Ale I ever tasted. You had to close your eyes (drinking it from a glass) because of the bubbles. So good. I guess that building is long gone by now.

  3. Here’s the brewer from this block.

    James Connor, Weiss Beer Brewery (819 Carpenter St) 1881 1888

    And here’s a link to a story I did for Mid-Atlantic Brewing News on Philadelphia’s Weiss Beer brewers.

Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is enabled, no need to resubmit any comments posted.

Recent Posts
Design Coalition Aims To Bridge The Old-New Divide

Design Coalition Aims To Bridge The Old-New Divide

October 12, 2018  |  Walk the Walk

Move over Miami, the Philadelphia Design District is getting ready for some time in the spotlight. The coalition of gallery owners, artisans, and tech startups want to transform Old City into a hive of contemporary design, while preserving the neighborhood's historic character. Joe Brin takes a look inside the idea with co-founder Eugenie Perret > more

Germantown Boys & Girls Club Compromise Brings Peace To Penn Street

Germantown Boys & Girls Club Compromise Brings Peace To Penn Street

October 9, 2018  |  News

Owners of Germantown Boys and Girls Club reach an agreement with preservationists after two years of heated debate. Starr Herr-Cardillo has the news > more

Shakespeare & Co. Brings Old Bank Back To Life

Shakespeare & Co. Brings Old Bank Back To Life

October 4, 2018  |  Buzz

Manhattan-based bookstore and café revives an old banking storefront in Rittenhouse Square. Michael Bixler takes a look > more

Historic Districts Make A Comeback

Historic Districts Make A Comeback

October 2, 2018  |  Vantage

After nearly a decade of lost opportunities, creative new strategies emerge for protecting Philadelphia's historic neighborhoods > more

Bearing Witness To Destruction On Christian Street

Bearing Witness To Destruction On Christian Street

September 28, 2018  |  Vantage

This summer contributor Mickey Herr recorded the slow demolition of Christian Street Baptist Church from the beginning to the end. In this photo essay she shares what it was like to watch a 128-year-old neighborhood landmark being reduced to rubble > more

New Audio Archive Gives Voice To Philly Immigration History

New Audio Archive Gives Voice To Philly Immigration History

September 26, 2018  |  News

Relive Philly public history in high fidelity through those who came before us. Historian Janneken Smucker gives us a listen inside the inner workings of the digital oral history project, "Philadelphia Immigration" > more