The P.E. Sharpless Creamery & Philadelphia Cream Cheese

The most popular butter in the 1880s (according to articles and advertisements in the Atlantic City Gazette-Review, the Daily Republican, Evening Star, the Philadelphia Times, Newport Daily News, the Evening Journal, Press of Atlantic City, etc.) was “Sharpless Gilt-Edge Butter” or “Sharpless Philadelphia Butter”(Philadelphia was added to the name in 1890). It came from a creamery in the vicinity of Philadelphia, and its reputation greatly preceded itself. According to the Philadelphia Times in 1888, Sharpless gilt-edge butter was “the most delicious addition to the feast of good things” and consumers would “never put tongue to anything so toothsome.” The butter was so popular, it was reportedly used at the White House, according to the Lancaster Examiner in 1902, where they write: “The Sharpless butter is In great demand in Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore, and Washington. Butter used at the White House is made by Sharpless.” The Sharpless Creamery grew through the 1890s under the ownership of Pennock Edward Sharpless, a native Pennsylvanian and son of a prominent local dairy farmer, William Sharpless. He moved his creamery to Ward Village, Concord Township, PA in 1893, where he produced many dairy products from butter, pimento cheese, and most importantly — cream cheese! The creamery burned down in June 1900 due to an arson attack, but was immediately rebuilt. In 1904, Sharpless Creamery was fully incorporated as a domestic business corporation (#326461) and mass producing dairy products for sale all around the mid-Atlantic region. In 1910, the New York Produce Review and American Creamery notes that “John B. Fassler, head cheesemaker of the P.E. Sharpless Company plant at Ward, Delaware County reports daily receipts of 16,000 lbs. milk. Of this over half is made up into Neufchatel and Philadelphia cream cheese, the remaining goes into condensed milk.” Sharpless used the moniker “Philadelphia cream cheese” on his tinfoil packaged cream cheese cakes, and examples of advertisements can been seen in every major newspaper at the time in this region (Atlantic City Gazette-Review, Daily Republican, Evening Star, The Philadelphia Times, Newport Daily News, The Evening Journal, Press of Atlantic City, Delaware County Daily Times, Lancaster New Era, Denton Journal, Asbury Park Press, The Washington Post, Harrisburg Telegraph, The Virginian-Pilot, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Reading Times, etc.). The Sharpless Creamery also turned to the fluid milk business in 1922, when they consolidated with the Breyer Ice Cream Company to create the Breyer-Sharpless Milk Association. The Ice Cream Review of 1922 notes that “The Breyer Company confined itself to the manufacture of ice cream previous to the consolidation, while the Sharpless firm have long been known as manufacturers of fancy print butter and package cheese, as well as condensed and evaporated milk.” So basically, the Sharpless Creamery had the Philadelphia dairy market cornered! The reality of the cream cheese boom at the turn of the 20th century was that there were only 5 major creameries making and selling cream cheese: Phenix Company and F.X. Baumert Company in New York, Kraft Company and Blue Label Cream Cheese Company in Chicago, and the P.E. Sharpless Creamery in the Philadelphia area, according to the 1954 court case Kraft Foods Co. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue. It goes on to state that “no other concerns, with the possible exception of one or two small ones, made and sold cream cheese commercially in the United States at that time.” Out of the 5 companies, the P.E. Sharpless Creamery was the only geographically authentic Philadelphia cream cheese company! The Sharpless Company went on to obtain three U.S. patents on their process of making soft cheese (patent # 1,258,438) and packaging (patent # 1,399,270 and 1,466,380) beginning in 1918, 1921, and 1923. Two patents in 1937 covering the manufacture of cream cheese (patent #2,098,764 and 2,098,765) were given to Pennock Edwards Sharpless’ son, Caspar Sharpless, who became the general manager of the still-operating Sharpless plant in Ward Village after the sale to Kraft Company. In 1924, Kraft Company purchased the P.E. Sharpless Creamery and all assets, including their patents. Kraft continued using the Sharpless name on their dairy products (likely for name recognition), until 1941 when Kraft trademarked the “Philadelphia Brand” moniker (trademark registration #0392212). Kraft also purchased the Phenix Cheese Company (formerly the Williamstown Lawrence Company) in 1928, the New York State company that is credited with inventing cream cheese and trademarking “Philadelphia cream cheese” before any other company. Of course, Kraft Company is the business that makes and sells Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese today, thus the P.E. Sharpless Creamery is an important story in the evolution of Kraft’s Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese.. The P.E. Sharpless Creamery is no longer standing, but two historic resources — The P.E. Sharpless House (#108) and the L.E. Buckley House (#107) — remain in connection to the creamery. Read more about the P.E. Sharpless company here.

Alexander Scott & Son Mill Complex

The beloved Il Granaio restaurant in Ward Village, formerly Richards & Schrader, began as the Alexander Scott & Son mill complex in 1884. Alexander Scott and his son Norris Scott established a saw and grist mill along Concord Creek (also known as Ward Run), and later a built a lumber yard. In 1916, Taylor Richards and Gilbert Schrader purchased the property and kept the lumber yard, and added a coal yard and feed business. Lewis Schrader and Walter Schrader joined the firm, and bought Howard Brown’s lumber, coal, and feed business in Chester Heights and conducted business at both places under the name Richards & Schrader. The original building was destroyed by a devastating fire in 1936, but was rebuilt. The Richards & Schrader feed building was sold in the 1960s, and went through a variety of different businesses and ownerships until it became the present restaurant, Il Granaio. Concord Township Historic Resource #110

Newlin-Johnson House aka Nine Tun Tavern

The Newlin-Johnson House, also once known as the Nine Tun Tavern, was built on land purchased by Nathaniel Newlin from William Penn in 1682. Nathaniel Newlin III built a stone house on the corner of the Wilmington-West Chester Pike, formerly known as the King’s Highway, in 1732 that passed to Pennsylvania politician Nathaniel Newlin IV, who served in the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention, state assembly, and state senate. He converted the building into an inn for the nine tun wagons traveling down the pike. It served as a public inn from 1748-1776 as the Nine Tun Inn, and through the early 1800s as Newlin’s Tavern. The name “Nine Tun Tavern” is a reference to the massive wagons traveling along the highway carrying goods between Delaware and Pennsylvania. The tavern was purchased by the William Johnson family, the namesake for the historic area “Johnson’s Corner,” in 1832, who then closed the business and instead enlarged the house to become his home in 1840. William Johnson owned the largest farm in the Beaver Valley area, and represented the top quartile of wealth distribution in the township. It remained a private residence and farm until the 1950s. The building fell into disrepair, but underwent an extensive rehabilitation in the early 2000s. Several organizations used this building such as Delaware County’s Brandywine Conference and Visitors Bureau and the Mickey Vernon Sports History Museum, before becoming the present day offices for PA Representative Craig Williams. Concord Township Historic Resource #16

Robert Wilson House and General Store

The Robert Wilson House and general store is a stucco and brick 2 1/2 story house located within the Clayton Park historic area in Concord Township. Robert Wilson, a successful merchant, purchased 9 acres from Joseph and Sarah Way on January 28, 1732. Mr. Wilson operated a general store in the basement and main level of the house, and lived on the second floor. The basement of the property contained several arched brick storage chambers, and housed goods such as rum, cider, molasses, and sugar. The Wilson General Store was noted by Henry Ashmead that “all business transactions were conducted in an honorable and straightforward manner.” There was a neighboring general store owned by John and Simon Gest located only 300 feet away from the Wilson store, and the two were highly competitive. The 1766 valuation of both stores were around 200 pounds, with the Wilson store valued slightly higher than the Gest store. The property was sold to John Peters in 1766 after Wilson’s death, and it is noted that John Peters also purchased the inventory for the store, indicating he continued operation of the business. By 1799, Caleb Perkins purchased the property, and also likely continued operation of the store. This house is a private residence and not open to the public. Concord Township Historic Resource #91