Sunday, March 26, 2006

Blight takes a holiday

Progress has been steady at the Cardinal Ritter Birthplace at 13th and Oak Streets. It's a good time to take a look back two years ago and see where this house was compared to where it is today.

The front porch restoration has been the most recent work.

To get more information on the Cardinal Ritter Birthplace Foundation visit their site at

Please consider a donation to help with this incredibly important project.

Part 3 - The Rise and Fall of Market Street Brewery

In Part 2, we established that Building B was indeed still with us. I’m also happy to confirm that Building A - Ice House and Fermenting Cellar- is also still here. It is located at 309 East 10th Street (larger building to the left). I make this conclusion with the help of David Barksdale, Floyd County Historian. We made this determination based on the following.

Features dating the building to 1875

-The rosettes on the anchor bolts match on both buildings

-The wide frieze on both buildings match

-Sanborn Insurance map building profiles match from 1886 to 1949

I’m still searching for an older photo of site for total confirmation, but am comfortable stating the building is original.

Building A (Ice House & Fermenting Cellar) Current and Past

The building has been heavily modified since 1875. The exterior walls have stucco applied, which would not be original to 1875. Breaks in the stucco reveal brick work consistent with building B. The windows also are not original to the structure. We believe the inset layer of bricks in the window sills date the modification to the 1920’s. Other clues also date the modification to the late 1920’s.

The interior first and second floors are apartments and in pretty rough shape. The current owners are in the process of remodeling. Again, the interior trim and construction materials date to the 1920’s.

The trail of deeds on the property confirms when the building was remodeled to what we see today:
-The estate of Barbara Buchheit to John Werle (1892)
-John Werle to Simon Haskell (1928).

We believe that Mr. Haskell converted Building A to apartments. We base this on the fact that the 1929-30 city directory shows multiple tenants at the address for the first time.

Down in the Basement

The basement is very impressive and an obvious storage facility. The basement remains relatively intact. It consists of five long rows separated by brick walls running east to west with an open center row down the middle. Each row is approximately four feet wide. The floating brick walls separating each row are about sixteen inches wide. The floor is concrete.

In the center row, towards the front of the building, is an opening in the floor. An unmistakable arch of cut stone is visible through the opening. It’s a small opening – just wide enough for some brave spelunker to wiggle into.

We have not explored this opening yet. The building does not have electricity at this time, so the exploration is just going to have to wait at least two or three weeks. But that won’t stop me from theorizing what may lie beneath the basement.

We know the brewery produced lager and that lager ferments at cold temperatures (five to six weeks at about 33 degrees Fahrenheit). They would have needed plenty of space to store the beer. So it is entirely plausible that beer vaults exist down there.

It is also possible we are looking at a cistern that captured runoff water from all the ice used to keep the beer cold. It may also be a well dug to supply water to the brewery. Whatever it is, it appears an opening was left for the purpose of putting garbage in it. So we may have a well, cistern or beer vault filled in with 150 years of rubbish. We will find out eventually.

One additional feature is on the north basement wall (bordering building B). There appear to have been two openings leading to the basement of building B (or to a possible storage vault). They are bricked in now but the arches are clearly visible. Again, this is speculation, but one could theorize that one opening led to the basement of building B and that another led to stairs our possible vault.

The Site as a Brewery

The site sure had a good run as a brewery – thirty four years. From 1856 to 1890, beer was produced at Market and 10th Street. .

After Peter Buchheit’s (brewery founder) death the brewery went through some turbulent times. His wife Barbara took over operations for a period of time, then it went through a series of different managers until closing for good in 1890.

Timeline for brewing at the site (1)
Peter Buchheit, Market Street Brewery (1856-1876)
Barbara Buchheit (1876-1884)
Julius Gebhard and Co. Enterprise Brewery (1884-1886)
Charles Burger, New Albany Brewing Company (1886-1888)*
Andres Schlosser, National Brewery (1888-1890)

The following Ledger story documents one of these changes in management in 1886.

Daily Ledger, August 7, 1886
New Albany Brewing Company
(Successors to Gebhard & Co.)
"Leading Brewery in New Albany"

The New Albany Brewing Company do business on East Tenth, between Market and Spring streets, and it is one of the busiest places in the city. In the reorganization of this Company, Messers. Charles Burger, and Herman Kirhhoff, of Cincinnati, are added to the firm. Mr. Burger is a gentleman of considerable wealth and becomes president of the company. Mr. Kirhhoff assumes the responsible position of Secretary and Treasurer. Mr. Julius Gebhard, one of the most experienced brewers in the Western Country, takes the position of Superintendent. It is not necessary to state that under this efficient management the New Albany Brewing Company will enjoy a liberal patronage and justly rank among the leading breweries of Southern Indiana. Mr. Frank Gebhard, a young man of genial social disposition, continues the new firm and his many good traits of character will add to the already growing and prosperous business of the company….

During the past few days the business of this firm has increased wonderfully, and the superior quality of beer turned out it gradually gaining them an extensive shipping trade. Their sales embrace the city and extend all over Southern Indiana. A large and improved refrigerator has been placed in the cellars and many other needed improvements have been made, which combine to afford them the necessary facilities to compete with the leading breweries in this section the country.

The New Albany Brewing Company is brewing now a superior lager beer for which on imported hops and the best quality barely malt is used. There is a large and increasing demand in New Albany and the surrounding country towns for such a fine quality beer.

This excerpt from the Ledger, August 23, 1890 tells of the end of our brewery and the start of another:

The Indiana Brewing Company is making many improvements to its property on East Main Street, above Vincennes. Several additions to the building have been made and the company has contracted for 500,000 bricks for the erection of the other buildings this fall. The company purchased the Buchheit brewery material sometime ago and is transferring it to their present large plant. Mr. Gustav Weinmann is the energetic and enterprising general manager of this extensive brewery.

This has been a fun project with a rewarding outcome. New Albany has the distinction of having two structures remaining from a brewery dating to 1875. The buildings are in good shape and will be with us for a longtime to come.

For more information on New Albany breweries, please visit the New Albany Floyd County Public Library (Indiana Room). They have a file full of newspaper clippings and other assorted information on our brewing past. Just ask the librarian for the Brewery file.

A more polished version of these postings will be added to that file. There will also be a fourth posting once the basement is fully explored.

1. Peter R. Guetig and Conrad D. Selle. Louisville Breweries p.9
(* I added this line based on the Ledger article from 8/7/1886)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Part 2 - The Rise and Fall of Market Street Brewery

A recent trip to the brewery site revealed some secrets.

First, the building designated as “B” is still standing today.

It is 315 E. 10th Street and now serves as a church. In 1886 there was storage on the first floor and the grain room on the second floor. The building dates to approximately 1875 and has been altered significantly. However, features do remain which confirm its brewing past.

The north side of the building has interesting clues. The shadow lines of the former building C are obvious. The buildings were joined where the bricks seem out of place today (note the vertical bricks). Joists from building C would have been joined here.

Two arched openings (on the first and second floor, now bricked in) would have provided access back and forth. Propped next to the first floor opening are two large metal doors that match the opening. They quite possibly could be the original doors.

There are also two smaller arched openings that have been bricked in. What was their purpose? Possibly ventilation or for water pipe entry. Building C contained a 12 horsepower steam engine. It was the heart of the brewery and would have been used to pump water as well as other mechanical purposes.

On the rear of the building, on the second floor, are two grated openings. This would have been consistent with the use of that floor as the grain room and the need for ventilation there.

This is where malt would have been made. As noted in the Ledger article (9/22/1875) in Part 1, the fire in 1875 resulted in the loss of considerable barely and malt. I think I can safely assume the brewery had the capacity to make their own malt, evidenced by the large amount of barely and malt lost in the fire. However, the 1886 map states the kiln is “not used”. It could be assumed they had ceased to make their own malt by 1886 and were purchasing it from a local malt house.

Building A (on the left below) is noted as the Ice House and Fermenting Cellar. A Part 3 post will be dedicated to that building.

I was lucky enough to visit the basement of this building recently. I am desperately seeking an old photo of the brewery site to determine if the building was original to the 1875 reconstruction after the fire. Right now, we are leaning heavily to the “yes” conclusion. There’s a lot of evidence that the building was modified in the 1920’s to its current condition but the structure itself dates to 1875. If anyone has any clues to pass on, please do.

The basement is very impressive and an obvious storage facility for large casks. One surprise in the basement is evidence of a vault below the floor. More on that in the next few days.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Rise and Fall of Market Street Brewery (Part 1)

The recent news of development plans with the property at 10th and Market was great to hear. It’s also a commonly known fact that the site used to be a brewery. Luckily, I’d also recently acquired the book Louisville Breweries by Peter R. Guetig & Conrad D. Selle (get your copy at Destinations Booksellers today). Put all this together, along with a little curiosity on my part, and we’ve got the makings for another Our History posting.

The brewery was established by Peter Buchheit in 1856. It was known as Market Street Brewery. The Buchheit family lived in the home at the corner of 10th and Market (lost to fire in the 1990’s). The brewery operation was right outside their back door. The operation spanned nearly the entire block on the west side of 10th Street between Market and Spring Street.

Excerpts from an 1877 Ledger article provide a nice overview of the brewery operation.

The New Albany Ledger Standard, February 21st 1877

His (Mr. Buchheit) beer is known and greedily guzzled in New Albany and far beyond her confines. This gentleman has met with considerable misfortune by the destruction of his establishment in 1875 by fire. Being a man of great nerve he at once set about and rebuilt, and today has a larger and better brewery than ever. It is built mostly of brick, with iron roofs, and the arrangements and conveniences are better than formerly.

The brewery is complete in every department, and has capacity of making ten thousand barrels of beer annually. Last year Mr. B sold nearly 4,000 barrels, and paid the Government $1 each for the privilege. The best material is used for the manufacture of the beverage, the best barely, California hops, &c. A very convenient elevator is arranged in the main building, and grain and other articles are speedily and safely hoisted and lowered from and to the different floors and cellars.

Mr. B has expended a large sum of money and may be considered among the large manufacturers in the city. The large and deep cellars connected with this brewery are stored with lager made during the cold weather and it will be kept cool during the summer months by being completely surrounded by ice. The ice house at the brewery contains about 609 tons, and another on the Jeff railroad above the city contains fully 1,000 tons.

The fire referenced above is described in another Ledger article below.

The New Albany Ledger Standard, September 22nd 1875

This morning at 6 ½ o’clock, the alarm of fire was sounded and it was discovered that the extensive brewery of Peter Buchheit was on fire.

When the alarm was given the three engines, the Sanderson, Jefferson and Washington, were prompt in action, and did efficient work in subduing the flames, which required three quarters of an hour. The cause of the fire is not known.

The citizens gathered from all quarters and rendered timely assistance. The building contained two thousand bushels of malt and a quantity of barley. The basement was filled with beer, which will be damaged by becoming heated. The malt, which was consumed, is valued at $2,500, barley valued at $1,000.

A snapshot of the Sanborn insurance map below (from 1886) shows the layout of the brewery in great detail (in 1884 the brewery had been acquired by Julius Gebhard and Company). The right side of the map is 10th Street and the bottom is Market.

You’ll note that in the lower middle of the image there’s a structure noted as a dancing hall. Also nearby is another structure noted as a saloon (this is 911 E. Market which is currently for sale – visit to buy). A dance hall, saloon, and brewery all in close proximity – how cozy!

Here's a close up of the brewery operation.

In part 2 of this post we’ll examine the buildings on the site today (one structure there does remain from the brewery days), the evolution of the site and the brewery operation.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

And so it began

Imagine you are waking up one morning in your Boston Massachusetts home. You hear the clip clop of horses passing by on the streets, the hustle and bustle of trade, a constant hum of activity associated with a busy seaport. You are in the fourth largest city in the country with a scant population of approximately 33,000. It’s 1813.

You read this article in the local paper (transcribed in full below). Do you start packing up the mule/horse/ox for a trip?

New Albany

This town, just laid out with spacious streets, public square, market, &c. is situated on the banks of the Ohio river, at the crossing place from Louisville to Vincennes, about two miles below the Falls, in the Indiana Territory, affords a beautiful and commodious harbor. The beauty of the prospect is not surpassed by any in the Western Country. The bank adjoining the river is high, and not subject to inundations. At the distance of 660 feet back is a second rise of about 20 feet, from which there is an extensive view up and down the river. There is a sufficient number of excellent and never failing springs for the supplying of any number of inhabitants. This advantage, together with that of the country around, being dry, and clear of any stagnant water; being sufficiently distant below the Falls to avoid the fogs, and any noxious exhalement arising therefrom in the warm season and the wind generally blowing up at the that time, are sufficient reasons to induce a belief of healthfulness of the situation. The advantages New Albany has in point of trade, are perhaps unrivaled by any on the Ohio, as it is immediately below all the dangers which boats and ships are subject to in passing over the Falls, and is the only eligible situation for a depot all the exports and imports of a great part of the Territory, and may export and import while the river is low and markets good, as well as when the water is high. From the vast quantity of excellent ship timber, the abundance of iron ore, within a few miles, and the facility with which hemp is raised, it is presumed that this will be one of the best ports in the United States for the building of vessels, as well as the loading of them. The erection of a saw mill to go by steam, is contemplated this fall, and a grist and flour mill next summer.

Lots will be sold at Auction on the first Tuesday and Wednesday in November next. The terms of payment will be one fourth ready money, and the remainder at three annual installments, to be secured by the deed of trust or otherwise—One fourth part of each payment to be paid into the hands of trustees, (to be chosen by the purchasers) until such payments shall amount to five thousand dollars; the interest of which to be applied to the use of schools in the town, for the use of its inhabitants forever.

Manufacturers of iron, cotton, hemp, wool, &c. are much wanted, as are all kinds of mechanism.
New Albany, July 8, 1813

*Special thanks to Paul Potts for providing this wonderful tidbit of New Albany history for all to see.