by Lucy Curtis
When selling antique books, maps, and prints, the very last thing you want is to have water leaking through your walls and roof – however, that is just the problem Don Cresswell, owner of the Philadelphia Print Shop, had earlier this year.
The Philadelphia Print Shop, opened in 1982, is located at 8441 Germantown Avenue. The mortar in the brick wall facing Highland Avenue, as well as the bricks in the parapet on the roof, had deteriorated over the years, and water had begun to seep into the mortar.
Owner Don Cresswell and his assistant, David T. Moore, had already begun looking into contractors when Moore was informed by the Chestnut Hill Business Center of the Merchants Fund and the possibility of grant money from it.
On the application process, Moore says, “we learned that this was something that might interest [the Merchants Fund] for a building that contained this business, and is on a prominent corner of this particular business district in the city.”
The Merchants Fund is a charity that gives grant money to past and present Philadelphia business owners. The fund was established in 1854 and has given around 370 grants to Philadelphia businesses. On May 2, when Cresswell gave his signature of acceptance, the Philadelphia Print Shop became one of these businesses.
Even before being awarded the grant, Cresswell and Moore had decided on a contractor who could provide brick pointing on the shop. Steven Preiss is the founder and owner of Preiss Masonry Restoration.
This company was the ideal choice for the Philadelphia Print Shop because not only is it a local business, but Preiss is known for his excellent work on many local projects, including his work on the Cresheim pergola, which he restored in 2015, and his work for Kilian’s Hardware.
Preiss began his work on the Philadelphia Print Shop on June 1 and completed it on June 8. Moore says that though the shop had until August to complete the project, he “knew it wouldn’t take long – we just had to get it started.”
The process of applying for the grant that made this possible began in January of this year, with the letter of submission being sent in on Jan. 27. The Philadelphia Print Shop applied for a stabilization grant, which the Merchants Fund defines as grants which “are available to help small businesses remain stable and viable in the face of economic challenges, changes and crisis.”
After applying for the grant, the Print Shop had to wait three months until it heard whether or not it had been selected to receive it. On April 28, a letter of notification was issued letting Cresswell know that his business had been selected to receive a stabilization grant from the Merchants Fund.
Now that the project is completed, Moore says that “it does remove a worry and a concern.”
“Now there’s something [Cresswell] doesn’t have to think about, “ he added. [The grant] does have a bottom line impact … it does help the conduct of the Philadelphia Print Shop.”
Since its founding the Print Shop has stayed mainly the same.
“We sell history,” said Cresswell.
Moore elaborates: “Many of [these] objects will tell you, ‘this is what people thought.’ Like at a time, people thought California was an island. So, you can look at a map and this map illustrates that, but the map is also an object of beauty to the eye. It’s not just the history and the knowledge, there’s a lot of that in it, but a lot of it is also the attractiveness of the object.”
Because they sell objects that are not only beautiful but historically significant, the Philadelphia Print Shop has a responsibility to keep these pieces of history safe, and the Merchants Fund allows it to do that.
“One of the things that impressed me,” Cresswell pointed out,, “was that the Merchants Fund asked about succession – what are our plans for the future. And our plans are very much to stay in Philadelphia. We’ve just got a wonderful business, it’s been here for a long time, and we hope to keep it going. I enjoy it, work hard at it. My son Jonathan works here and is doing a good job. So that’s [part] of [our] future as well.”
With a future full of selling beautiful pieces of history in front of them, the Philadelphia Print Shop can now rest assured that its antique maps, books, and prints will be safe from harm.