Crews to begin Cramp Machine Shop dismantling on Monday

The dismantling of the Cramp building – the hulking brick icon of Philadelphia ship building located at 2050 Richmond Street – begins Monday.

The building will be torn down to make way for new Girard Interchange ramps as part of the I-95 redo. Construction of the new ramps is anticipated to start in 2013.

It will take crews about two months to finish taking apart the structure, which was built in 1913 as part of William Cramp & Sons and originally produced steam turbine engines. The factory went dormant for 18 years before coming back to life in World War II to make gun turrets. From 1945 until 2009, it was used as a warehouse, but has sat empty since.

Its last owner, developer Joel Assouline, purchased the building a few years back with hopes of turning it into live-work condominiums, but its fate had been determined since about 2003, when the Federal  Highway Administration gave approvals for new highway ramps to be built where the building stands.

PennDOT has hired Geppert Brothers, Inc. of Colmar to do the dismantling. Crews will initially peel off the brick from the buidling’s exterior. Then the cindber block walls will be removed, and finally, the roof and steel frame.

Workers will remove historical and noteworthy items from the building’s interior that were related to its shipbuilding past. Such items will be preserved, and some of them may be used nearby as public art. Some of the bricks and other materials may also be re-used in the surrounding neighborhoods – neighborhoods that were in part shaped by Cramp Shipyard. Read about that here.

This will be guided by the Sustainable Action Committee, an assemblage of representatives from neighborhood associations and other groups that represent areas along the Girard Avenue project area, the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, the Central Delaware Advisory Council, and city departments.
PennDOT also hired an architectural historian who documented the building through research, photographs and a video.  See photos and a portion of the video in this earlier PlanPhilly story.

Reach the reporter at kgates@planphilly.com.

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