Old Village Master Painters, Ltd ~ a Division of C. Schrack & Co est 1816
The Old Village Design Studio™
The Old Village Design Studio™ is led by Emilie Stulb Magowan, also a 6th generation Stulb. Emilie and her team create unique and beautiful specialty finishes for our clients.
C. Schrack & Co.
(This history is excerpted from
In 1831, Mr. Schrack apprenticed 8 year old Joseph Stulb. Stulb, upon Christian Schrack's death in 1854, purchased the company and it remains in the Stulb family today.
Christian Schrack was born about 1790 in Philadelphia to Catherine and Abraham Schrack, who were inn keepers on High Street. Christian later married Catharine and they had at least 3 children. His daughter, Sarah, was born in 1811, married David Pearson, and passed away in 1845. Christian and Catharine had at least 1 other son and daughter but their names have, unfortunately, been lost to history. Two descendants: Christian Schrack - who was probably the son of Christian's son - was born in 1840 and was employed by the company in the late 1800's, and; Welling Schrack, whose relationship to the founder is not clear, was born in 1829 and worked for the company for most of the nineteenth century.
Schrack, in 1828, donated funds for the construction of St. Matthew's Lutheran Church at 4th and New Streets.
The demand for Schrack's varnishes, paints, lacquer, turpentine, whiting and other products grew along with his customer list which included numerous local and remote coating-consuming companies such as George Wetherill & Bros, the Philadelphia Prison, Delaware shipbuilders, the Baldwin Locomotive Company, the Pennsylvania Iron Works, as well as French carriage makers. and various local churches.
Augustin Cerveaux "Paints and Varnishes" Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia
This demand led Mr. Schrack to take on an apprentice.
Joseph Stulb was born in Germany in 1822 and emigrated to the US shortly after. He became apprenticed to Christian Schrack in 1831. In addition to his training as an apprentice, Schrack also sent the young man to night school - and in 1848 made him a junior partner in C. Schrack & Co.
Mr. Schrack continued to perfect his products throughout the 1830's and 40's and expanded his markets into the Midwest and Northeast US, and into Canada. The uses for the products evolved as customers began to apply varnishes and paints to building interiors and exteriors, and to the new railroad cars.
In 1852 the company renovated the original store which was renumbered from 80 North 4th Street to 152-158 North 4th Street, and upgraded the original horse-powered works on Branch Street with a modern steam engine and color grinding plant. The company also had a "stable" property at Dilwyn Street. In 1860 a new plant was built at 28th and Girard Avenue.
During the Civil War, the company expanded its product offerings to include window glass, palette knives and goods imported from Europe, but the "national affair" brought on inflation and sales declined. Townsend Willits, who had previously worked at the company, was brought back into the firm as a clerk and then promoted in 1865 when Samuel Felton left to start a new varnish business with Conrad Rau and Edward Sibley. Felton, Rau, Sibley & Co. continued to maintain a business relationship with C. Schrack & Co. into the twentieth century.
At this time, Townsend Willits was a vestry man at, and the Stulbs attended, St. Matthew's Lutheran Church whose construction Christian Schrack had contributed to. Mr. Willits was also treasurer for the Northern Home for Friendless Children, which many orphans of the Civil War called home. (Joesph's oldest son - Edwin Hutter Stulb - was named after Edwin Hutter, the pastor of St. Matthews and co-founder of the Northern Home.)
Joseph Stulb, Welling Schrack, and Townsend Willits led the company through several critical periods in the 1870s and 1880s.
Girard Avenue Fire
C. Schrack & Co. began to expand into Europe and other parts of the US following the end of the Civil War, but was dealt a severe financial loss with the burning of Girard Avenue varnish factory in July 1870. Following the fire, the company opened a new manufacturing plant at 15th and Mickel Streets across the Delaware River from Philadelphia in Camden, NJ. Welling Schrack took over this part of the operation.
On November 23, 1898, Joesph Stulb, head of the firm for over 45 years and apprentice to the founder "died suddenly of heart failure". Following his death, his sons Edwin and Joseph took over management of the firm while Theodore left to pursue other interests. Less than a year later, C. Schrack & Co. would experience its second fire.
Fire at the Camden Plant
A deadly and financially crippling explosion and fire occurred at the company's Camden facility in early August, 1899. One employee, Henry Upjohn, was killed despite attempts by Christian Schrack Jr. to save him from the blaze. The company was not insured and lost 50,000 gallons of varnish and $25,0000. These losses forced the the company to write letters to their customers explaining their "dire financial situation" and asking for payments on all open accounts.
The Stulb brothers survived this catastrophe and at the beginning of the twentieth century was becoming as well known for its paint as for its varnish. The company employed about 12 men in sales and manufacturing and built new factories at 15th and Federal Streets in Philadelphia, and at 15th and Carman Streets in Camden. The company's client list included Lit Brothers and John Wanamaker retailers in Philadelphia, and the Winnipeg Piano Company. The birth of the automobile industry opened up new markets for the company's products.
Edwin H. Stulb passed away on September 2, 1920 and left the company to his wife Ada and his two sons Joseph R. and Edwin Jr. Joseph was a graduate of Germantown Academy, a Freemason, and a member of the Union League and the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.
At some point after 1945 the original building at 152 North 4th Street in Philadelphia was demolished and the company was relocated to Fort Washington, PA just north of Philadelphia.
5th and 6th Generations