The History

The John Grass Wood Turning Company produced turned wood objects for everyday use, including ballustrades, night sticks, plates, bowls, bowling pins, tool handles, and their most popular item: flag poles. The company produced these goods for over 150 years, with historically accurate reproductions becoming a large share of the work in recent years. The company had a relatively large staff of 10 to 16 individuals during its' heyday, including turners, accountants, and supervisors. The John Grass Company officially closed its' doors in 2003.

Workshop of the World  by Walter Palmer, jr.
(reprint from Construction Today)
A Historical Background  by Jane Mork Gibson

Historic Images:


Technical Drawings:


A Brief Timeline

1838 - John Grass born in Bavaria

1853 - John Grass emigrates to the United States

1863 - John Grass Wood Turning Company founded

1911 - John Grass incorporates with his partner, Lou Bower

1914 - John Grass dies

1916 - The Company moves to it's current location at 146 N 2nd St.

1989 - Lou Bower III inherits the Company from his father

2003 - Lou Bower III ceases operation of the Company

2006 - The John Grass Task Force is formed to create and implement a plan to preserve the building, its industrial history, and to integrate The Center for Art in Wood's programs, collections, and offices

2010 - 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. This purchase ensures that the Center's efforts to both preserve and raise awareness about the Grass building have contributed to its future rehabilitation and use. Stay tuned for future update.

, (215) 923.8000
The Center for Art in Wood
141 N 3rd St
Philadelphia, PA 19106