|Glatz Nature Preserve|
The park is unmarked, but it’s easy to find. Follow Doty past Ardy & Ed's to the very end of the street and look for the two rustic fences framing the entrance to the park. It may look like private land, but it isn’t. Take the path into the woods and in a few moments you’ll be standing on the very spot where, in 1869, Glatz and Elser began brewing their “Good As Milwaukee Beer.” Along the eastern edge of the property, crouched among the wildflowers, you can still see parts of the original stone foundation from the caverns the brewery used to cool and age their beer.
This remnant of Glatz and Elser’s Brewery is the oldest surviving brewing structure in Oshkosh. It was nearly lost, though. In 1974, when the area was being targeted for industrial growth, the Smith School PTA petitioned to preserve what was left of the brewery. The Oshkosh Common Council became involved and in 1975 the city purchased the land from Warren Basler with a promise from the Winnebago Conservation Club to raise $7,000 for restoration of the property. After months of volunteer work, a dedication ceremony was held and on July 4, 1976 Glatz Park was christened. At the dedication ceremony Common Council member Beatrice Techmiller said, “Glatz Park will be a place to experience nature and learn something about history at the same time." The part about experiencing nature came through, but you’ll have a hard time learning much about history there. What the park sorely lacks is a marker that tells the story of the brewery and its place in the daily life of the City of Oshkosh in the late 1800s.
So how would John Glatz feel about the city owning his land? The Union Brewery was constructed approximately 500 feet beyond the city limits, which enabled Glatz to avoid paying taxes to the city of Oshkosh. And in 1889, when Oshkosh officials sought to extend the boundary of the Third Ward and bring his brewery into the fold, Glatz fought them off. Though he was selling nearly all of his beer in Oshkosh, Glatz had no intention of sharing his spoils with the city that had helped to make him wealthy. In 1895 he even sued Oshkosh to get back a $200 fee he’d paid for purchasing an Oshkosh liquor license. He argued that because his beer had been made outside the city limits, Oshkosh had no claim on him. Now the City of Oshkosh owns his property lock, stock and barrel. We’re lucky that’s so. But would John Glatz appreciate the irony of it? Maybe. Maybe not.