Historic Germantown: Philadelphia, PA

Christopher Sower House Site

5300 Germantown Avenue

Trinity Lutheran Church now stands on the site of Christopher Sower's printing establishment. Sower is remembered as the printer of America's first German Bible in 1743. (The first Bible printed in America was in an Indian language. The first English-language Bible followed 40 years later.)

"As Printing Types are now made to a considerable degree of perfection by an ingenious Artist in Germantown; it is recommended to the Printers to use such Types in preference to any which may be hereafter imported."
–Pennsylvania Gazette
February 1, 1775

Sower is also known for priting the first German newspaper in America. Sower the elder died on September 25, 1758, and Christopher Sower II, continued his father's business and printed two more versions of the Bible in 1763 and 1776. He became a Bishop of the Dunker Church, but continued his printing business up to the Revolution. In 1772 or 1773 he cast the first type of American manufacture.

During the British occupation of Philadelphia, Sower printed an English newspaper for them. After the British withdrew he refused to take the oath of allegiance to the State. As a result, he was termed a collaborator and his property and goods were confiscated and sold. He died a ruined man. His house was replaced by the church house attached to Trinity Lutheran Church in 1860. The business, Christopher Sower and Co. was carried on afterwards by generations of the Sower family.

1. Marion, John Francis. Bicentenial City: Walking Tours of Historic Philadelphia. Princeton: The Pyne Press, 1974.
2. Jenkins, Charles F. The Guide Book to Historic Germantown. Germantown Historical Society, 1973.

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