Monday, August 1, 2016

Pieces of the Past at Glatz Park

In 1894, Glatz’s Union Brewery merged with two other Oshkosh breweries to form the Oshkosh Brewing Company (OBC). After the merger, much of OBC’s beer was brewed at what had been the Glatz Brewery. That arrangement held until 1911, when OBC built its new brewery on the east side of Doty Street just south of 16th Avenue.

Three years after the new brewery had gone up, the old Glatz brewery was taken down. But there are pieces of it that linger. The next time you visit Glatz Park, look for the low, stone wall that runs parallel with Doty Street. It was constructed in either 1867 or 1872 (a note on that below). The stone wall at Glatz Park is the oldest piece of brewery standing in Oshkosh.

That remaining portion was part of the brewery’s stone foundation. But it was just a small part of the edifice. This was a large structure, approximately 160 feet long and 60 feet wide. The piece that remains was at the back (west) side of the brewery near its southernmost end. Let’s get a sense of where it fit within the rest of the brewery.

First, here’s a picture of the John Glatz Union Brewery, circa 1886. This is the front of the brewery. It’s what you would have seen if you were looking west while standing at the southern end of Doty Street.

Here’s something to take notice of that we’ll come back to later... Look to the left side of the photo showing the southern end of the brewery. You’ll see an opening leading under the building. That was an access point to one of the brewery’s beer cellars. It looks like the wagons loaded with kegs have just emerged from there.

Next is a detail of a Sanborn Fire Insurance Map published in 1903. I’ve added a green highlight over the approximate location of the foundation wall that remains in Glatz Park.

That remaining piece is about 58 feet long. Nearly 100 feet of that wall was still intact when Glatz Park opened on July 4, 1976.

If you visit Glatz Park, take a look on the east side of the wall. You’ll find plenty of evidence of the beer cellar that was at the southern end of the brewery. What’s left is rubble, but it wasn’t all that long ago you could prowl the caverns where Glatz lagered his beer. These caverns were once the main attraction at Glatz Park. Let’s take a virtual tour.

Entering the park from Doty Street, you’d get your first look into the cellar. For the picture below the camera was aimed north. Beyond the fence, you can see the stone arch above the entrance to Cavern 1.

There were two main caverns under this end of the brewery. Both were approximately 15 feet wide, 25 feet long and 12 feet high at the peaks of their arched entryways.

In the picture below, we’re looking down at the two caverns. Cavern 1, which we saw in the picture above, is to the right (east). Cavern 2 is to the left of Cavern 1.

Here’s a walkway that ran along the south end of the two caverns. Straight ahead we see a smaller arched doorway that led out towards the front of the brewery. The wall on the right was the southernmost foundation of the brewery.

Now a look inside those two caverns. Here’s the inside of Cavern 1 looking north.

And here’s the inside of Cavern 2, also looking north.

It kills me that these have been lost. I’ve heard stories that stone from the caverns was taken to the Paine for use in the formal garden that was there. I haven’t been able to confirm that.

One last thing: I’d love to hear from people who remember exploring Glatz Park when the beer cellar was still accessible. I’ve been going by old maps and pictures to draw my conclusions. That’s better than nothing, but the potential for error is high. If you know more, or can correct mistaken interpretations I’ve made, please leave a comment or contact me at And if you haven’t visited Glatz Park yet, don’t wait too long. As the past attests, what’s left may not last.

Thanks to Steve and Janet Wissink for sharing their memories and pictures of Glatz Park.

Note on dates: The first brewery at what is now Glatz Park was built in 1867. That brewery burned in 1871. The brewery was rebuilt in 1872. It’s not known if the portion of the foundation still standing was part of the original, 1867 brewery.

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