A vacant warehouse in at Front and Girard—known familiarly as the Fruchter Industries or Wood Superior building, due to old signage—went up in flames this morning, sending a firefighter to the hospital. Sound familiar? You may recall the Thomas Buck warehouse fire in Kensington that resulted in firefighter injuries and casualties. At the time of that fire, neighbors and community leaders had an utterly ungratifying "I told you so" moment, given that they had long registered concerns about the empty building as a fire hazard.
This building, smack next to the El, was also vacant for a long time and also a fire hazard. Once a whiskey brewery and ale house, the building—originally the Parke building—has an interesting history, according to the Ghost Sign Project:
L. H. Parke Company started in 1889 as a partnership of Louis H. Parke and William P. M. Irwin. The partnership took over the small provision-pushcart business of Samuel Irwin, a civil war veteran who had lost his arm in the Battle of Winchester, Virginia. Parke started as a seller of coffee, tea and spices. .... In 1961 the company was sold to Consolidated Foods and was merged in 1962 into Monarch Foods. When Mr. Fruchter came along, he adapted the building for his business as "wholesale distributors of kitchens, vanities & appliances," as the painting on the brick read. The most recent business there was called Wood Superior Inc., a business still listed at 1132 N. Front Street. (We called the company's phone number, but it's disconnected.) The owner of 1132 N. Front Street is a guy named John Galdo, who also owns a property at 1070 N. Front Street, down the road apiece. There's also a James J Galdo who owns a property at 21 W. Wildey Street, which isn't too, too far.
So who is John Galdo? There's more than one person with that name, of course. One John Galdo on Facebook has a nice smile and favorites that include the Bishop's Collar and Big Ol' Booties. In 2011, he added Firefighters Worldwide to his Likes, which is either ironic or completely meaningless. We sent a message to him, but if he's not the right John Galdo, he'll be very surprised to learn he owns a pile of rubble at Front and Girard.
Then there's Delaware's John Galdo, who was convicted in 2010 of possession with intent to deliver because 4.8 pounds of marijuana were found in his house along with paraphernalia and a lot of cash. He claimed the cash came from the estate of his aunt, who'd been bludgeoned to death by his nephew, David Galdo, in 2008.
There's a John Galdo in Swedesboro, NJ, originally from Philly, who worked at the Wonder Years Bar, and several Johnny Galdos and J. Galdos. We'll keep you posted.
· 4-alarm warehouse fire shuts El, sends firefighter to hospital [philly.com]