Letter From the Board - John Grass Update

By Richard R. Goldberg, Esq., The Center for Art in Wood's President of the Board of Trustees.
This is an update on the John Grass initiative in which The Center for Art in Wood was involved. Although the Center unfortunately was unable to acquire the John Grass Building, one of the oldest and finest examples of an historic building containing commercial wood turning equipment dating from the Industrial Revolution, we were indeed completely successful in saving the building and equipment for future use.

The Philadelphia Chapter of the United Carpenters and Joiners of American, one of the earliest supporters of the Center's John Grass efforts, purchased the building and all of its equipment from the descendents of John Grass who owned the facility. Through the efforts of Walter Palmer, Jr., former Board Member of the Center and officers of the Center, The Carpenters Union, upon hearing of the difficulty that the Center was experiencing, immediately entered into an agreement to acquire the existing machinery, tools and all other contents. Having secured the machinery, the Carpenters Union entered into negotiations with the owners and successfully acquired the building. The Center was instrumental in putting the parties together and saving this important part of the wood turning craft's history.

The Center would like to thank Lou and Marcia Bower, the former owners of the John Grass building, Edward Coryell, Executive Secretary, Treasurer and Business Manager of the Carpenters Union and Walter Palmer, Jr. for their efforts and foresight in accomplishing the preservation of the building and its original machinery.

What is John Grass?

The John Grass Wood Turning Company is a fully-functional wood shop, founded in 1863 in Philadelphia, when the city was known as The Workshop of the World. The John Grass Task Force, formed in 2006, is seeking assistance from individuals, corporations, institutions, and governments to help save this unique, historic time-capsule which contains working machinery and ephemera from 150+ years of operation as a production wood turning shop. Items produced at the John Grass shop includes replacement ballustrades for Philadelphia's Independance Hall and Christ Church, and night sticks for the Philadelphia Police Department. Learn more about the project by clicking on the links at the top of this page, and join us by supporting the efforts of the John Grass Task Force.

Experience the vision!

MGA Partners, the architecture firm in charge of maintaining the historic integrity of the John Grass building while designing new space for The Center for Art in Wood, in association with John Bowie Associates, has just completed its initial renderings of the propsed project. Check out The Vision!

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The Center for Art in Wood
141 N 3rd St
Philadelphia, PA 19106