Saving A Historic Chicago Brewery (or Two)!
Posted by Bob Skilnik on October 21, 2007
I just received word that I’ll be participating in a meeting with Alderman Manny Flores this Wednesday at City Hall. And for once, I’ll actually be happy to shake hands with a Chicago politico. Last year I was contacted by the Logan Square Preservation organization for whatever historical input I could offer about the Brand Bros. Brewery and their father’s brewery across the street the Michael Brand Brewery, later known as the United States Brewing Company. Years of “progress” have chipped away at these structures, but Ward Miller, who heads up this organization, wants to try to stop it.
God bless ‘em! I’ve been doing tours of Chicago’s dwindling number of still-standing breweries but the wrecking ball keeps on showing up, and as someone once noted, my tour may eventually consist of showing empty lots and saying something like “At one time, the XYZ brewery stood here.” But now there’s some hope.
I also steered Ward to Susan Appel, who as some of you might know, is an expert on preProh brewing structures and someone I knew who had to be contacted for her expertise in offering whatever valuable architectural and historical background she could. But we could also use your help here. If you have any pictures of either brewery, interior or exterior, or any historical or architectural info that could help us plead out cause, PLEASE contact me immediately at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 1.815.557.4608 ASAP. Anything you can think of that might help us make a better argument as to why these structures should stay, are needed for our meeting. I know this is short notice, but we have to operate on the alderman’s schedule, not ours, especially when the man might be able to help us save a little bit of Chicago brewing history.
As Ward notes in this passage to Alderman Flores;
Thank you both, for the opportunity to consider the orange-rated (Virgil) Brand Brewing Administration Building, for Chicago Landmark Designation. This is a tremendous opportunity, to not only include this special building, but some of the other remaining structures affiliated with the (Virgil Brand/Brand Bros) Brand Brewing Company and the Michael Brand Brewing Company/United States Brewing Company buildings, located directly across the street and to the immediate South on the 2400 and 2500 blocks of Elston Avenue.
Several of these structures may have been modified (or even re-faced with superficial new brick) on the Elston Avenue elevation of the buildings, but they do remain intact on the side and Riverfront elevations/facades. Perhaps even including a bifurcated “brewery designation” on several of these types of plants throughout the City may also be of interest and could even include the various company-run taverns (e.g.-The Schlitz Taverns), many which are also orange-rated in such a designation.
Providing such protection, would indeed “cement the storied history” of the brewing industry in Chicago, while providing protection and incentives for creative redevelopment schemes, which would “in-turn”, preserve important historical and architectural features of these once prominent structures. Used as a planning tool, Chicago Landmark Designation would ensure the right type of preservation and reuse, looking to the future of our community and City.
I’ve included noted author and historian, Bob Skilnik and Susan K. Appel, PhD, Professor of Art & Architectural History at Illinois State University in this email, since they will be joining us at our upcoming meeting on October 25, 2007 @ 3:00pm at your City Hall office…
With the demolition of a historic 1900s-era building this week, several blocks to the south of this site and complex on Elston Avenue, I would encourage that with the incredible volume of information and photos supplied in the past week, by Dr. Appel and Mr. Skilnik (attached to my 25-page packet and hand-delivered letter), that DPD-Landmarks move as quickly as possible towards issuing a report and “Preliminary Determination” re these strucutres.
Sincerely and With Best Regards,
Ward Miller, Vice President
Logan Square Preservation