100 Years of Brewing, Western Brewer, August, 1901
CHICAGO’S FIRST BREWERS
The immense brewing interests of Chicago had their origin in the persons of William Lill and William Haas. In September, 1839, William B. Ogden, who, two years previously, had been elected mayor of the city, established Mr. Lill in business at the corner of Pine street and Chicago avenue, Mr. Haas being the latter’s assistant. The “plant” was installed in a small tenement building and the first year’s brew was about 450 barrels.
After a few years Michael Diversey formed a partnership with Mr. Lill, when Mr. Ogden withdrew his silent interest in the business. Under the management of Lill & Diversey the so-called Chicago Brewery developed into one of the most extensive establishments of the kind in the west, occupying a portion of the original site, but then covering an entire block. For many years “Lill‘s Cream Ale” was one of the most famous brands in the country. Besides being known as good business men, Lill and Diversey were noted for their benevolence and generosity, the latter being a large benefactor to the German Catholic churches of Chicago.
James Carney was the next brewer who appears in Chicago annals. He was a grocer, but, in 1840, established a small brewery on South Water street, between State street and Wabash avenue, which, in October, 1855, he rented to John O‘Neill.
J. J. Sands’ “Columbian Brewery,” on the corner of Pine and Pearson streets, built in 1855, was a rival to the establishment of Lill & Diversey, its output being also pale, or cream ale.
In 1854, Conrad Seipp commenced business in Chicago, investing $18,000 and turning out $8,960 worth of malt liquors the first year, but in 1857 the entire capital invested in breweries, outside of Lill & Diversey, did not exceed $70,000.
The first lager beer brewery in Chicago and one of the first to manufacture any kind of malt liquor was that founded on the corner of Chicago avenue and Rush street, by the late John A. Huck, in 1847. Two blocks cast was Lill’s cream ale brewery, which had been in successful operation for about eight years. It is worthy of note that Wm. B. Ogden, the first mayor of Chicago, and in many respects its foremost citizen, was identified with ] both of these pioneer breweries; for, as has been stated, he was at first the financial support of the Lill brewery, and it was upon the Ogden block that the Huck lager beer plant was installed—upon the square bounded by Chicago avenue and Superior, Rush and Cass streets. In the center of the square, which was well covered by trees, was Mr. Huck’s residence, which, in turn, was the center of a beer garden—the first in Chicago.
FIRST LAGER BEER BREWERY IN CHICAGO (1847).
(Proprietor. John A. Huck
In 1855 Mr. Huck removed his plant to the corner of Banks and North State street, where the residence of Franklin Head now stands, and by the time of the Great Fire it had expanded into one of the most extensive establishments of the kind in the country. With two miles of subterranean vaults and brew and malt houses, in proportion, it was one of the marked sights of the city. In 1871, however, all was swept away and the labors of many years lay in ruins. The property remained idle for several years, but in the latter portion of 1877, Mr. Huck began to lay his plans for a rebuilding of the brewery on the old site. While in the midst of these preparations, however, in January, 1878, he was taken away, leaving, among other children, the Louis C. Huck, who first associated himself with his father in 1861, established an independent malting business in 1869 and is now a well-known capitalist of Chicago.
Conrad Seipp, the founder of the brewing company of that name, was born in 1825, near Frankfort on-the-Main, Germany, his early trade being that of a carpenter and joiner. In 1849 he came to this country, locating at Rochester, N. Y., but after a brief stay there, during which he followed his trade, removed to Chicago. For the succeeding five years he was proprietor of a hotel, but in 1854 rented a small plant, known as the M. Best Brewery, at the foot of Fourteenth street. In the following year his brewery was destroyed by fire, but in the fall he rebuilt on the site of the present plant of the Conrad Seipp Brewing Company.
The main building, of brick, had a frontage of about fifty feet, the beer cellars being underground, the malt floors on the ground, the living rooms for Mr. Seipp and his three children on the second floor, and the storage rooms for the barley and malt above. In 1858 Mr. Seipp formed a partnership with Frederick Lehmann, the firm of Seipp & Lehmann continuing until the death of the latter in July, 1872.
The surviving partner purchased the interest of the Lehmann heirs and in 1876 incorporated the Conrad Seipp Brewing Company, of which he remained president up to the time of his death, in January, 1890. During this period also Wm. C. Seipp, his son, served as vice-president, and T. J. Lefens as secretary and treasurer. From the founding of the business, in 1854, until its incorporation in 1876, the output increased from 1,000 barrels of lager beer to more than 100,000 barrels. The founder of the company was a man, not only of remarkable strength of character, but of rare domestic and philanthropic virtues. After his death different local charities received bequests from his estate which amounted to more than $100,000.
In April, 1890, a few months after the death of the founder of the business, the Conrad Seipp, the West Side, and the F. J. Dewes’ breweries, with the L. C. Huck and the George Bullen malt houses were amalgamated to form the City of Chicago Brewing and Malting Company. By this time the Conrad Seipp plant had expanded into one of the most extensive establishments in the country, with an annual output of 240,000 barrels of lager beer. It was one of the pioneers in the adoption of artificial refrigeration, the first of its machines being installed in 1881.
Lill & Diversey’s Chicago Brewery
Lill & Diversey’s Chicago Brewery, Pine and Chicago streets
In 1841, Michael Diversey and William Lill bought the first commercial brewery in Chicago (Haas & Sulzer Brewery) and changed the name to the Lill & Diversey Brewery, also known as the Chicago Brewery. The two men saw huge success and by 1861 were producing 45,000 barrels of beer a year and employing over 75 men. Famous for “Lill’s Cream Ale,” by 1866 the brewery had sprawled to over two acres and four stories high. The Water Tower Pumping Station, which still stands today, was put in directly across the street.
From Edward’s Official Chicago Directory, 1869
Serving two terms as a Chicago Alderman (1844-45; 1856-1868), Michael Diversey also donated a small plot of land where a Catholic church for fellow German immigrants was built. St. Michael’s was the tallest building in Chicago until 1885 when The Old Chicago Board of Trade building was completed. Known as a great city leader and keeping company with the likes of Joseph Sheffield and William Ogden, Michael Diversey was integral in bringing great growth to Chicago.
However, Diversey died in 1869, and Lill continued to run the brewery. Till the Great Fire of 1871 wiped it out and Lill lost everything. The brewery never re-opened and Lill passed away in 1875.
A typical Chicago Liquor Store which stood at 167 State St (101 South State Street today) in 1868.
BREWERIES AFTER 1871
The great fire of 1871 found Chicago in possession of twelve large breweries. Of these five were destroyed, being the Lill, Sands, Brandt, Metz and Huck establishments, all of which were located in the North Division of the city.
The production of beer and ale in 1872 was about one-half of 1885, although the price at that time was two dollars per barrel in excess of the present price. By 1884, there were thirty-one breweries in Chicago, and in 1885 two more were added to the list. In these years Chicago ranked sixth as a beer-producing center in the United States, over ten millions of dollars being invested in the interest in this city, the breweries employing some two thousand workmen, whose aggregate wages amounted to a million and a half of dollars. The brewing interest more than doubled in the fourteen years anterior to 1885, reaching an annual production exceeding 800,000 barrels.
Wacker & Birk Labels
The Wacker and Birk Brewing and Malting Co. 171 North Desplaines Street;
This company was organized, and began business in 1883, and from a comparatively small beginning has grown to be one of Chicago’s important industries. The plant is located at 171 North Desplaines Street; the buildings covering almost the entire block bounded by Desplaines, Indiana and Jefferson Streets. The firm employs seventy-five men, has two engines of 350 horsepower each, five boilers of equal capacity, two ice machines, and all other necessary machinery for successfully carrying on the business. The product of this establishment for the year 1891 was 105,000 barrels. A large percentage of this is consumed in Chicago. The officers of the company are Charles Wacker, President and Treasurer, and Theo. Hohenal, Secretary.
1857-1858 Seidenschwanz & Wacker, Hinsdale, between Pine and Rush streets
1858-1865, Wacker & Seidenschwanz, N Franklin Street
1865-1882, Frederick Wacker, 848 N Franklin Street
1882-1918, Wacker & Birk Brewing & Malting Co., 171 N. Desplaines (Indiana Street)
1920, Wacker & Birk Co.
Wacker & Birk Brewery
171 N. Desplaines
The Bemis & Curtis Malting Company
On the corner of Bliss Street and Hickory Avenue, is the successor of the Bemis & Carden Malting; Company, which was organized and incorporated under the laws of Illinois in 1881.
The grounds occupied by the company have a frontage of three hundred feet on liliss, and one hundred and twenty-nine feet on Hickory Avenue. The tracks of the Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway Company adjoin their property, affording them excellent facilities for shipping goods. Their building is seventy-five by one hundred and twenty-nine feet, is five stories in height, with four malt floors, each seventy-five by one hundred feet. The kilns are double, each twenty-six by thirty-four feet. The store-room is forty by fifty-five feet. They have two malt elevators and two barley elevators, with a joint storage capacity of one hundred thousand bushels, and the malting capacity is two hundred thousand bushels. The malting floors are provided with steam scrapers, and the whole establishment is a model of its kind. The six iron steeping-tanks are situated at the top of the building, which is a great saving of labor. The company employ eighteen men, eight horses, and run four wagons.
McAvoy Brewery on 24th Street and South Park
The McAvoy Brewing Co. 24th Street and South Park
This is one of the old established concerns in the city, being started in 1859 as Downer, Bemis & Co., an ale brewery. It was changed to a lager beer brewery in 1865, with new buildings added, which were further added to in 1882. The firm established their business of brewing lager beer in a small three-story brick building near the corner of South Park Avenue and Twenty-third Street, fronting the Lake. This now includes the main entrance of the imposing array of three and five story buildings on the west side of the avenue.
The product finds a market, mainly in Cook County, Ills., but it also extends throughout the state, and through Indiana and Michigan. The officers of the company are Austin J Doyle, President; Adam Ortseifen, Vice President, and H. T. Bellamy, Secretary and Treasurer. Mr. Doyle is a well known figure among Chicago’s business and political characters. He has often held positions of profit and honor, and has long been a controlling spirit in political movements. He first came into prominent public notice as Chief of the Chicago Police, and was afterwards Clerk of the Criminal Court, and then Justice of the Peace. He is a native of Chicago, is about forty-two years of age. and still has a brilliant future before him, if one can judge from his career in the past. He took an active part in the organization of the Chicago Passenger Railway Co., in which he held an important office when it first began business. When it was absorbed into the West Division System, under Mr. Yerkes, Mr. Doyle retired.
On December 17, 1866, a stock company was formed, and since that time the establishment has continued to increase its manufacture from three thousand five hundred barrels of beer annually to over one hundred thousand. A large malt-house was erected adjacent to the original building in 1870-71, and four spacious ice-houses were also built on the western side of the avenue in 1872, 1874, 1875 and 1876. In 1871-72 a large addition was made to the brewery proper, while in 1878 and 1879 two additional ice-houses were erected on the east side of South Park Avenue. The large brick barn was built in 1878, and the office building was put up in 1879. During the building season of 1883, a magnificent brew-house, cne of the most complete in the world, was added to this already immense establishment. The buildings occupied and owned by the company are thirteen in number, ranging from two to six stories in height, and covering an area of nearly two hundred and fifty thousand square feet. The frontage on South Park Avenue is 1,200 feet, the average depth being 200 feet. The establishment is provided with every known modern appliance for manufacturing, not only the very best grades of lager beer, but also malt; indeed, some of the machinery for brewing and mashing is remarkable for its ingenious construction and immense power, requiring the use of a battery of four Babcock and Wilcox boilers of 832 horse-power and a 100 horse-power engine. The company gives employment to over one hundred men, and none but skillful workmen are among the number, the chief brewer, Fritz Hieronimus, having learned his trade in Germany, where he was considered among the most skillful in his line. lie received his practical education at Erankfort-on-the-Main, the best school for brewers in the world. To the south of the brewhouse is the office building, a substantial two-story brick structure. A general air of solidity, elegance and even luxury pervades all the surroundings here. The main office is large and neatly furnished, and Mr. McAvoy’s headquarters are fitted out until they seem to glow with comfort and hospitality. Above are the billiard rooms for the entertainment of visitors and friends. In fact, the general impression given is that business and sociability are happily and judiciously combined.
The product of this brewery has long been famous among the lovers of the amber liquid for its purity It stands second to none.
McAvoy Brewing Co., 23rd & South Park Ave., was the successor of several early Chicago Brewers and Malsters. Previous at this location, were the
Bemis & Rindge Brewery, 1862-64
Downer, Bemis & Co., 1864-69
Downer & Bemis Brewing Co, 1869-82
Bemis & McAvoy Brewing Co, 1882-87
McAvoy Brewing Co, 1887-1920.
John H. McAvoy was president of the last two companies mentioned. In 1889, both the McAvoy Brewery and the Wacker & Birk Brewery were sold to an English Syndicate, the Chicago Breweries Limited. After joining the syndicate both breweries continued using their same business name and same management team, so from the publics view, it was business as usual. In-house bottling was installed by 1893, perhaps earlier. McAvoy’s main product seems to have been their famous McAvoy Malt Morrow and much of their literature mentions only the McAvoy Malt Morrow Department. McAvoy was one of the bigger breweries in Chicago, only four were bigger in 1893 and 1896 directory listings. However the national climate for the beer business began to change as the Prohibition movement began to take hold and soon the business began a downhilll ride. The Brewery closed for good in 1920, coincident with National Prohibition. Of the collectables they left behind Malt Marrow items seem most prevalent.
Bemis & McAvoy Brewing Co
24th Street & South Park
Robinson Fire Maps 1886
Volume 1, Plates 12 & 15
Jung & Borchert Union and Ohio streets
Jung & Borchert are manufacturers of lager beer on Ogden and Milwaukee streets, Milwaukee, Wis. The business was established in 1870, by F. Borchert & Sons, who continued until 1879, when the firm changed to Jung & Borchert. The capacity of the house is seventy-five thousand barrels, and the sales average sixty thousand barrels annually. A branch house has been opened in Chicago on the corner of Union and Ohio streets, and Mr. Schmidt appointed agent.
West Side Brewing Co.. Corner of Augusta and Paulina streets
Brewers of lager beer, this concern was started in November,1880, with small capital, but it has grown steadily since until it carries on hand a stock of about40,000barrelsof beer, while its annual annual sales reach 120,000 barrels. The brewery premises occupy the entire block bounded by Paulina, Augusta and Rumsey streets. The power is furnished by four engines of an aggregate of 318 horsepower. It has three ice machines, and employs 125 hands in its severaf departments. The President of the concern is Wm. C. Seipp; Vice-Piesident and Treasurer, John A. Ord; Secretary, William Legner. The product finds market mostly in Cook county, but it Is sold somewhat extensively in Springfield, Ills. Mr. Wm. C. Seipp served one term as County Treasurer, and also one as City Treasurer. Mr. Lefens, the Secretary, is at present a Director in the World’s Columbian IExposition.
Seipp & Lehmann’s Brewery
20th to 27th on Cottage Grove
The Gottfried Brewing Company Archer and Stewart avenues
This company was organized and chartered in June, 1882, with Mathieu Gottfried, president; Ferdinand Gundrum, vice-president ; Charles L. Reifschneider, secretary ; and John H. Weiss, treasurer. In 1870, Mr. Gottfried bought out a small establishment at his present location, on the corner of Archer and Stewart avenues, at an outlay of $30,000, and commenced the manufacture of beer. In 1872, he built an ice house, and in l879 added another. In 1884-85, he erected a new brewing establishment, with refrigerators and engine-room, and an addition to his ice-houses, and now has five beer cellars with a storage capacity of about twenty-five thousand barrels. This brewery is in every respect supplied with the latest improvements of which many are his own inventions in beer manufacturing, and the sales of the company average now fifty thousand barrels annually.
Gottfried Brewing Company
Archer and Stewart avenues (Near 22nd Place)
Robinson Fire Maps 1886
Volume 2, Plate 19
Schoenhofen Brewery Company
Peter Schoenhofen Brewing Co. West 12th Street
Peter Schoenhofen, a Prussian immigrant, was in Chicago working in the brewing trade by the 1850s. In 1861, he started a partnership with Matheus Gottfried; they were soon operating a brewery at Canalport Avenue and 18th Street where, during the early 1860s, they made about 600 barrels of lager beer a year. In 1867, Schoenhofen bought out his partner, and the company became the Peter Schoenhofen Brewing Co. By 1868, annual output had increased to about 10,000 barrels. During the 1890s, when the business was owned by the City Contract Co. of London, England, annual output reached 180,000 barrels. Around 1900, the Schoenhofen family regained control of the company, which employed about 500 people at its brewery on West 12th Street by 1910. During this time, the company was also known as the National Brewing Co. The company’s “Edelweiss” brand of beer was a big seller. Operations shut down during Prohibition, but by 1933, after the national ban on alcohol production was lifted, the company was back in business as the Schoenhofen-Edelweiss Co. After being purchased by the Atlas Brewing Co. in the late 1940s, Schoenhofen became part of Drewery’s Ltd. of South Bend, Indiana, in 1951, and thereafter assumed the Drewery’s name. By the beginning of the 1970s, there was nothing left of its Chicago operations, although Drewery’s reintroduced the famous Edelweiss brand in 1972 after nearly a decade-long hiatus.
This brewery produced one of the most successful advertising campaigns in the industry with the Toy Boys.
Peter Schoenhofen Brewing Co
Canal Port and 18th Streets
Robinson Fire Map
Volume 2, Plate 7
The United States Brewing Co.
Offices, Monadnock Building
This is a combination under one general management of several brewing companies located in Chicago and Milwaukee, whereby considerable economies are effected in the conduct of the business. The concern is composed of what were formerly the Val. Blatz Brewing Co. of Milwaukee, the K. G. Schmitt Brewery Co., the Bartholomae & Roesing Brewery, the Ernst Bros. Brewing Co., the M. Brand Brewing Co., and Bartholomae & Leicht, all of Chicago. The officers are Val. Blatz, Esq., President; Leo Ernst, Esq., Vice-President and General Manager; M. Brand, Esq., Treasurer, and M. E. Pavy, Secretary. The general office of the company is at Room 831 Monadnock Building, Chicago. The combined output of’ the concern is about 800,000 barrels of lager beer per annum. From an economic standpoint this combination of interests has been a great saving in many ways, first in the purchase and handling the raw material, second in the distribution and transportation of the product, and third in the collection of accounts, and keeping of the books. Already the sales of beer since this company’s incorporation show an increase over the corresponding period of the year previous, of over 14,000 barrels, notwithstanding the much colder weather that prevailed during the time. The first annual report of the company is dated September 30, 1891, and shows a very gratifying condition of business up to that time, with a flattering prospect for an increase in future.
K. G. Schmidt Brewing Company, North Clark Street and Grant Place
Karl Schmidt he came to the United States, leaving Havre, France, on February 10, 1854, and landing at New York after a voyage of eight weeks.A few weeks later he left New York for Chicago. lie secured employment at a small machine shop on Franklin Street, between Randolph and Lake streets, owned by Trub & Huchmann, but soon afterward engaged with Mr. Moses, whose establishment was located at the Polk-street bridge, with whom he continued six months. His health failing he was advised by his physician to seek country air and quiet, accordingly he went to Sterling, 111., and remained one year on I.evi Breshau’s farm. On his returning to Chicago he resumed work with Mr Moses, and, upon the failure of his employer, he purchased a horse and wagon and delivered beer for a Milwaukee brewery on commission. The business being quite profitable he contracted with Lill & Diversey to sell their product for three years. At the end of that time, in connection with William Siebert, he began brewing beer, in a small way, on North Clark Street, between Chicago Avenue and Superior Street. Four years later the firm dissolved, Mr. Schmidt purchasing the business and the brewery which they had erected at the corner of North Clark Street and Cane Street (now Grant Place), where he was burned out by the fire of 1871. Shortly afterward he resumed business with Herman O. Glade as a partner, which continued until February, 1882, since which time it has been operating in the form of a stock company. Their main building is brick and covers an area of 125 x 325 feet, is five stories high, and their force of seventy-five men produce about 48,000 barrels of malt liquor annually.
Michael Brand and Company 2519 Eliston Avenue.
This company was organized and chartered in 1876. Michael Brand, president ; Rudolph Brand, vice-president; and Virgil M. Brand, secretary and treasurer, The business done by the company is large, the sales averaging over $1,000,000 annually. Michael Brand commenced business in the spring of 1853, on Cedar Street, in company with Valentine Busch and was organized s Busch & Brand Brewery Company in 1864 and continued with him until Mr. Busch’s death, which occurred in 1872. They had succeeded in building up a large trade, when the fire of 1871 came and entirely destroyed the business. Mr Brand soon re-built on a much larger scale, but finding his business increasing so rapidly that more room became a necessity he purchased several tracts of land on Elston Road near Fullerton Avenue. In 1876-77, he erected and placed the best machinery in a very large substantial brick brewery at an expense of $300,000 in 1877, moved his business there, and was very successful up o May 13, 1885, when disastrous fire consumed his valuable property again, leaving nothing but blackened walls. Mr. Brand redoubled his usual energy, and the company, in about six weeks’ time, were again ready to do business. Mr. Brand is the oldest brewer now doing business in the city, and is a large land owner at Brandsville, Howell Co., Mo., where he has a flourishing mill, sawmill and store on his farm of eighteen thousand acres.
Trade names for the brewery at 2519 Eliston Avenue:
1878-1897, Michael Brand
1879-1886, Michael Brand & Co.
1886-1889, Michael Brand Brewing Company
1889-1927, United States Brewing Company of Chicago
1889-1915, Michael Brand Brewing Co.
1920-1924, United States Beverage Co.
Issued Special Government Permit No. ILL-H-14980 Allowing the production of low-alcohol beer for “Medicinal Purposes” 1920
1932, Reopened as the United States Brewing Company
1933, Granted Brewery Permit ILL-U-703
Brand Brewing Company
2530 Eliston Avenue.
The Ernst Brothers Brewing Company
The Ernst Brothers Brewing Company is a chartered corporation under the laws of the State of Illinois, the charter being granted in 1884. The brothers built their commodious brick brewery in 1884.
United States Brewing Companies
Bartholomae & Leicht, M. Brand, Ernst Bros. and K. G. Schmitt
Bartholomay & Burgweger Brewing Company
This work. to be a comprehensive reflection of the trade, commerce and industries of Chicago, would be incomplete without mention of this house. The brewery was established in 1865, by J. L. Iloerber. In May, 1882, a stock company was formed and chartered under the above name, with a capital stock of $50,000. The company is now controlled by the following named officers: William Kucht. president; Leonard Burgweger, vice-president and superintendent; Edward F. A. Thielepape, secretary; and Phillippe Bartholomay, treasurer. The building occupied by the company is 140 x 175 feet in dimension, and three stories in height, giving them thirty-four thousand five hundred feet of floor surface. Underneath the building are capacious cellars for storage purposes. The establishment is provided with every known appliance for manufacturing, not only the best grades of lager beer, but also malt. The company gives employment to over forty men, and in those branches requiring thorough knowledge of brewing none but the most skilled are engaged. The sales will reach thirty thousand barrels annually, the value of which is $160,000. The business of the company is increasing each year, necessitating large additions and improvements. The capital stock, as stated above, is $50,000, but the actual investment is over $100,000. The trade, though chiefly a local one, reaches many neighboring cities.
Independent Brewing Association
1440 North Halstead Street (586/612 North Halstead St)
1890 to 1909
Prima Brewing Company
Chicago and Its Resources Twenty Years After, 1871-1891, The Chicago Times Company – 1891
History of Chicago. From the Earliest Period to the Present Time, A. T. Andreas – 1884
One Hundred Years of Brewing; a Complete History of the Progress Made in the Art, Science and Industry of Brewing in the World, Particularly During the Nineteenth Century. H.S. Rich & Co. -1903