Yes, this is going up a bit late. Short notice/approval combined with busy people.
Humanim, the owners of the former Wiessner/ American
Brewery at 1700 North Gay Street, will offer tours of the historic
building for Baltimore Beer Week on Sunday, October 28th from 11 a.m..to 1 p.m. Actual tours will be given every half-hour; last admission will be at 12:30 p.m.
The Wiessner Brewery, or American Brewery as it was later known as, is
perhaps one of the most iconic jewels of Baltimore's brewing and
architectural history and landscape, so much so that its image was
heavily used by Baltimore Beer Week to promote last year's "theme" of
the history of Baltimore's beer scene.
The building remains not only a monument to the development
of brewing, one of Baltimore's major industries in years past, but also to the Germans who worked
and lived in the area. John Frederick Wiessner, a German immigrant, leased the
land upon which the current complex sits in 1863 in order to erect a brewery. Although there were already twenty-one breweries
in Baltimore City and Baltimore County at the time, Wiessner's brewery rapidly expanded, employing
many Germans that had been brewers prior to their emigration to America. In 1887,
Wiessner constructed the present building to enlarge and modernize his brewery.
The height of the building and the internal organization of space were
by the requirements of brewing, but its spectacular exterior reflects
and decorative detail popular during the Victorian age in which it was
built. Later renamed the American Brewery, it was one of the largest and
finest breweries in the state.
The Wiessners were forced to sell during Prohibition; it reopened in the
1930s under the American Brewery name, and the Allegheny Beverage
Company was the last company to occupy the brewery. In the mid-1930s, a
brewery was created behind the old facade. "American Beer" was produced
here until 1973, the same year the building was listed on the National
Register of Historic Sites. The building was deeded to the City of
Baltimore in 1977.
The building, which became part of a large city-owned conglomerate of
properties in the neighborhood, sat vacant for three decades--aside from
occasional covert use by the Baltimore City Police Department as an
observation post for drug investigations--until November 2007, when
Humanim, a Columbia-based nonprofit that provides work force development
for the disabled, purchased the property for $2,500 from
the city. The owners of the American Brewery complex in East Baltimore
then secured $22.5 million in grants and financing to renovate and
develop the Brewery building, totaling 30,000 square feet, in what was
then one of the city’s most blighted neighborhoods. Streuver Bros.,
Eccles, & Rouse were the developers chosen to make the combined
renovation-and-preservation project a reality.
of the building was completed in May 2009, and Humanim's offices opened
shortly thereafter. In spite of beer having nothing to do with the
non-profit's mission, Humanim and the site's developers have been
especially sensitive to the building's heritage. Two display cases in
the main lobby hold artifacts from the brewery's history; several
significant details, including a grain elevator, have not only been
preserved, but showcased in a sensitive manner; and even a brewing
kettle has been "carved" into a conference table nook. Added
value: potential spectacular views of the city from one of its highest
accessible points! Bring your camera!
Visitors will be welcomed at the building beginning at 11:00 a.m., and
are asked to park on the building site and/or at overflow lot at the
corner of N. Gay Street and Patterson Park Avenue (see the blue parking
area on the map; click on the map for an enlargement). A television in
the reception area will show a slide show depicting the extensive
renovation process undertaken in 2008-2009. Tours of the building, lasting a half-hour each, will
commence at 11 a.m., 11:30, noon, and 12:30. No additional visitors will be permitted
after 12:30 p.m.
scheduled for that day are the Walking Tour of Brewer's Hill (limited to 50 participants), which
will allow you to visit two former breweries in the same day. Also that day is the Union Craft Brewing party at their brewery in the historic Clipper Mill/Woodberry neighborhood.
Humanim's own web page about the building, with links to far more information, is here. More on the brewery's history here and here.
The Baltimore Beer Week Committee is grateful to Humanim, Inc, for
graciously permitting this tour opportunity as part of Baltimore Beer Week. See you
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