Monday, November 9, 2015

Then and Now: Horn & Schwalm's Brooklyn Brewery

Here we have a couple of pictures of the same building. We'll be looking east from Doty St. just south of W. 16th Ave. The first shot isn't dated, but appears to have been taken in the late 1880s when it was Horn & Schwalm's Brooklyn Brewery. The picture immediately below it was taken yesterday afternoon. It's now the home of School Stationers Corporation. Built in 1879, this is the oldest intact brewing structure in Oshkosh.

Over the years I've somehow managed to sidestep posting anything here resembling a thorough overview of this brewery. Time to fix that. Here's a chronology of the lead-up and significant events related to Horn & Schwalm's Brooklyn Brewery.

A 25-year-old German brewer named Leonhardt Schwalm emigrates from his native Saxony. He settles in Winnebago County in the Town of Nekimi.

At the age of 17, August Horn emigrates from Bavaria with his parents Gottlieb and Barbara Horn. The family establishes a farm south of Oshkosh in the Town of Black Wolf.

Schwalm opens a saloon on the south side of Oshkosh in the old 3rd Ward (the precise location remains unknown). An early advertisement for the saloon announces that Schwalm is serving “Excellent Lagerbier,” which he had “Attentively” made.

Schwalm leases the Lake Brewery from Anton Andrea. He produces beer there until 1865.

October: Schwalm purchases four lots south of what is now W. 16th Ave. between Doty and S. Main St. He begins planning his brewery in Oshkosh. It will become the first full-sized production brewery in Oshkosh to be located south of the river.

November: Leonhardt Schwalm purchases the Butte des Morts Brewery from his brother Louis Schwalm.

December: Schwalm sells the Butte des Morts Brewery to Frederick Bogk.

The Schwalm Brewery on the south side of Oshkosh is producing and selling lager beer. There are now six breweries operating in Oshkosh.

The Original Schwalm Brewery

Schwalm sells half his interest in the brewery to August Horn. The two are related by marriage. The brewery is known early on as the Schwalm and Horn Brewery.

August Horn

More than twenty people often reside at at the brewery, including the 15 children of the Horn and Schwalm families. The staff of brewery workers share living quarters with the two families.

Brewery worker Leonard Schiffmann dies after falling into a deep vat of boiling wort at the brewery.

Leonhardt Schwalm dies unexpectedly. He is 45 years old. His cause of death isn't revealed in the reports of his passing. The Schwalm family remains involved in the brewery's operations.

The brewery has come to be known as Horn & Schwalm's Brooklyn Brewery. It is the second largest of the six breweries operating in Oshkosh producing 1,366 barrels of beer. The Glatz Brewery is the largest producing 1,530 barrels of beer.

A sign at the entrance to Charles Raasch's Main St. Saloon in Oshkosh advertising Horn and Schwalm's beer

The brewery and its store of beer are destroyed by fire. Horn & Schwalm post no production for the year. Following the fire, a new brewery is built at the same location. Constructed of brick, the brewery is 45 x 65 feet with three stories above ground and a large beer cellar below. It has an annual capacity of 3,500 barrels. It is described as the best-equipped brewery in Wisconsin outside of Milwaukee.

The stone-arch entrance to the beer cellars is still intact

A fire insurance map of the 1879 brewery

Leonhardt Schwalm's 21-year-old son, Theodore Schwalm, becomes co-proprietor of Horn & Schwalm's Brooklyn Brewery.

Theodore Schwalm is placed under Guardianship due to his excessive drinking. He is 25 years old.

The Brooklyn Brewery helps to launch Oshkosh’s Anti-Prohibition Association.

A tornado hits the brewery. The brewery's barn and several of its outbuilding are destroyed. The brick brewery built six years earlier goes unharmed.

Aftermath of the 1885 tornado

Theodore Schwalm dies. Death is attributed to his damaged liver. His widow, Sophia Schwalm, becomes the brewery's co-proprietor with August Horn.

Theodore Schwalm

Horn & Schwalm's Brooklyn Brewery begins a period of rapid expansion. Production increases to approximately 10,000 barrels annually.

Expansion of the brewery continues. Capacity is increased to 20,000 barrels.
The Brooklyn Brewery becomes the first brewery in Oshkosh to use mechanical refrigeration.
This is now the the largest brewery in Oshkosh. Its beer is being exported to counties in the surrounding area.

The panic of 1893 coupled with increased competition from Milwaukee breweries wreaks havoc for Oshkosh brewers. Horn & Schwalm enters into an agreement with the Glatz Brewery and Kuenzl's Gambrinus Brewery to fix prices on beer sold in Oshkosh. During this period, such price fixing schemes are legal.

Horn & Schwalm's Brooklyn Brewery merges with the Glatz Brewery and Kuenzl's Gambrinus Brewery to form the Oshkosh Brewing Company. August Horn is named the brewery's first president.

Can you pick out the Brooklyn Brewery within this image?

After the 1894 merger, this facility continued in operation. It transitioned into a bottling plant and offices following the construction of a new brewery on the property in 1912. After the closure of the Oshkosh Brewing Company in 1970, ownership of the property changed several times before being purchased by Robert Stauffer in 1986. The property is currently owned by Robert Stauffer, Jr.

Want more? In the past, I've posted a number of stories relating to Horn & Schwalm on this blog. You can find those here.

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