Seattle Now & Then: Albert Braun’s Brewery in Georgetown

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Extended thanks to Ron Edge and his maps and aerials for properly siting Braun’s Brewery, to collector Dan Kerlee for letting us use this company portrait, and to Gary Flynn, the Bellingham-based breweriana collector and brewery historian.
THEN: Extended thanks to Ron Edge and his maps and aerials for properly siting Braun’s Brewery, to collector Dan Kerlee for letting us use this company portrait, and to Gary Flynn, the Bellingham-based breweriana collector and brewery historian.
NOW: Because of Boeing Field restrictions, Jean Sherrard’s “now” was taken from a prospect closer to the line-up of brewery employees and their families in the “then,” than to the unidentified historical photographer.
NOW: Because of Boeing Field restrictions, Jean Sherrard’s “now” was taken from a prospect closer to the line-up of brewery employees and their families in the “then,” than to the unidentified historical photographer.

Albert Braun arrived from Iowa soon after Seattle’s Great Fire of 1889.  Or perhaps before.  I we can trust the photo published below, Braun was here on the day of the fire and enjoying come cold beers at the beer garden that was then open at Pike Street and Front Street (First Avenue).  The caption to his piece of Seattle Times nostalgia from 1934 makes some spirited claims.  

The man sitting far left is identified as Albert Braun in this March 8, 1934 citizen-shared clipping from The Seattle Times.
The man sitting far left is identified as Albert Braun in this March 8, 1934 citizen-shared clipping from The Seattle Times.  The caption is worth reading in toto.  

Whether before the Great First or after it, within a year-and-a-half of the young German immigrant’s arrival here, with financial help from local and mid-western investors, Albert Braun built this brewery about two miles south of Georgetown.  The then still serpentine Duwamish River is hidden behind the brewery.  Directly across the river, on its west side and also hidden, was the neighboring community of South Park.  Braun’s name is emblazoned on the brewery’s east façade, and so it was best read from the ridge of Beacon Hill and from the trains on the mainline railway tracks below.

Well into the 20th Century when the reproduction of photographs in publications left much to be desired, it was typical for businesses of size to use litho depictions of their homes and plants. This one of Braun's brewery is peculiar. I includes structures that are not in the photo at the top but almost surely would have been include had they be build by the time of its recording. Also the litho puts Mount Rainier - if that is what it is - to the northwest of the brewery when it was the opposite. But then (and now) who is checking?
Well into the 20th Century when the reproduction of photographs in publications left much to be desired, it was typical for businesses of size to use litho depictions of their homes and plants. This one of Braun’s brewery is peculiar. It includes structures (far left) that are not in the photo at the top but almost surely would have been include had they been built by the time of its recording. Also the litho puts Mount Rainier – if that is what it is – to the northwest of the brewery when it was the opposite. But then (and now) who is checking?  (Courtesy, Gary Flynn)

The brewing began here mid-December 1890, and the brewery’s primary brands, Braun’s Beer, Columbia Beer, and Standard Beer, reached their markets late in March of 1891.  The 1893 Sanborn Fire Insurance map for Seattle includes a footprint of the plant that is faithful to this undated photograph.  The map’s legend notes that the buildings were “substantial, painted in and outside” with “electric lights and lanterns” and that a “watchman lives on the premises.”  It also reveals, surprisingly, that the brewery was “not in operation” since July of that year. What happened?

A detail of the 1893 Sanborn map is printed in the bottom-right corner. Running left-right through the middle of the montage is a detail from the 1912 Baist Real Estate Map, and on the top is a detail from the current GoogleEarth space shot of the old brewery site. (Thanks to Ron Edge for assembling this.)
A detail of the 1893 Sanborn map is printed in the bottom-left corner. Running left-right through the middle of the montage is a detail from the 1912 Baist Real Estate Map, and on the top is a detail from the current GoogleEarth space shot of the old brewery site. (Thanks to Ron Edge for assembling this.)  CLICK to ENLARGE

The economic panic of 1893 closed many businesses and inspired a few partnerships, too.  Braun’s principle shareholders partnered his plant with two other big beer producers, the Claussen Sweeney and Bay View breweries, to form the Seattle Brewing and Malting Co.  Braun’s landmark was then designated as “Albert Braun’s Branch.”  Of the three partnering breweries, this was the most remote, and it was largely for that reason – combine with the year’s panic – , it seems, that it was soon closed.  The upset Braun soon resigned, sold most of his interests in the partnership, and relocated in Rock Island, Illinois.  There, in quick succession – or simultaneously – he started work on a new brewery and fell in love, but with tragic results.  Early in 1895 (or late in 1894, depending) Albert Braun committed suicide, reportedly “over a love affair.”  

Pulled from the Seattle Times for October 1, 1899.
Pulled from the Seattle Times for October 1, 1899.

For six years this tidy Braun brewery beside the Duwamish River stood like a museum to brewing, but without tours.  Practically all the machinery was intact, from its kettles to its ice plant, until the early morning of Sept 30, 1899, when The Seattle Times reported “the nighthawks who were just making their way home and the milkmen, butchers and other early risers were certain that the City of Tacoma was surely being burned down.”  They were mistaken. It was Braun’s five-story brewery that was reduced to smoldering embers.  The plant’s watchman had failed that night to engage the sprinkler system that was connected to the tank at the top of the five-story brewery. The eventually flame-engulfed tank, filled with 65,000 gallons of river water, must have made a big splash. 

A clip pulled from The Seattle Times for August 11, 1900.
A clip pulled from The Seattle Times for August 11, 1900.

There is at least a hint that the brewery grounds were put to good use following the fire.  The Times for August 11, 1900, reports that the teachers of the South Park Methodist Episcopalian Sunday School took their classes “Out for a holiday on the banks of the beautiful Duwamish River, (and for) a pleasant ride over the river to the Albert Braun picnic grounds.” 

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, lads?  Here’s Lady Rainier to cheer you on!

Cheers, Santé, Prost, and Skål!
Cheers, Santé, Prost, and Skål!

Yup.  Ron has found a few links that prowl the territory – widely conceived – and we have reached far for four or five more.

Looking southwest from Walker Street to the burning ruins.

THEN: Sometime before her first move from this brewery courtyard in 1912, Lady Rainier was moved by a freeze to these sensational effects. She did not turn her fountain off. (Courtesy of Frank & Margaret Fickeisen)

THEN: The work of filling the tidelands south of King Street began in 1853 with the chips from Yesler’s sawmill. Here in the neighborhood of 9th Ave. S. (Airport Way) and Holgate Street, the tideland reclaiming and street regrading continue 70 years later in 1923. (Courtesy, Municipal Archive)

THEN: Part of the pond that here in 1946 filled much of the long block between Massachusetts and Holgate Streets and 8th Avenue S. and Airport Way. (Courtesy, Ron Edge)

THEN: In 1852 many of Seattle’s first pioneers removed from Alki Point by dugout canoe for the deeper and safer harbor along the east shore of Elliott Bay (our central waterfront). About a half-century later any hope or expectation that the few survivors among these pioneers could readily visit Alki Beach and Point by land were fulfilled with the timber quays and bridges along Spokane Street. (Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archive)

 =======

One of the Hemrich brothers
One of the Hemrich brothers

Rainier-Beer-Plant-,-bayview-web

First appeared in Pacific January 17, 1988. Directly below this photo is another of the same Bayview site, but earlier.
First appeared in Pacific January 17, 1988. Directly below this photo is another of the same Bayview site, but earlier.
Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry
Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry
The same Bayview site - later.
The same Bayview site – later.
The Rainier Beer brewery during its years of service to Tully's.
The Rainier Beer brewery during its years of service to Tully’s.
Rainier Brewery reclaimed
Rainier Brewery reclaimed
First appeared in Pacific on
First appeared in Pacific on  August 15, 1999.

2.-Rainier-Beer-billboard-'Now-Vigor-&-Strength-in-Every-Drop'WEB

One of the millions of barrels shipped and a few of the plants hundreds of employees.
One of the millions of barrels shipped and a few of the plants hundreds of employees.
Seattle Brewing and Malting Georgetown plant seen looking southwest over main line railroad tracks.
Seattle Brewing and Malting Co.’s Georgetown plant seen looking southwest over main line railroad tracks.
Georgetown's abandoned brewery looking southeast over Airport Way. (Jean Sherrard - about a dozen years ago)
Georgetown’s spiritless cathedral  looking southeast over Airport Way. (Jean Sherrard – about a dozen  years ago)
A short stack of saloon advertisements pulled from the Dispatch for October 15, 1877.
A short stack of saloon advertisements pulled from the Dispatch for October 15, 1877.
Joseph Butterfield and Martin Schmeig opened this brewery at the watefrtont foot of Columbia Street, the southwest corner, in 1865. It was not Seattle's earliest brewery, but nearly. And it was the largest of the early breweries - those before the Bayview Brewery.
Joseph Butterfield and Martin Schmeig opened this brewery at the watefrtont foot of Columbia Street, the southwest corner, in 1865. It was not Seattle’s earliest brewery, but nearly. And it was the largest of the early breweries – those before the Bayview Brewery.
Looking east from the elbowed end of Yesler's Wharf to the waterfront at Columbia Street in 1878. The brewery is behind the first Colman Dock, far right. Columbia Street climbs First Hill from Front Street. In the foreground some of Henry Yesler's logs float in his mill pond.
Looking east from the elbowed end of Yesler’s Wharf to the waterfront at Columbia Street in 1878. The brewery is behind the first Colman Dock, far right. Columbia Street climbs First Hill from Front Street. In the foreground some of Henry Yesler’s logs float in his mill pond.

=====

BEFORE PROHIBITION

Beer on board - beer everywhere.
Beer on board – beer everywhere.

JUST 45 DRINKING DAYS LEFT (A Collection of Pioneer Square neighborhood saloon life before they closed in Washington State on the first day of 1916.   Jean notices that here no women are to be found.  The photographer for these 5×7 glass plates has not been identified eiher.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE

glass---45-drinking-days-left-web

Bar-#5-c10glass--web

Bar#4-c10Glass-seattle-web

glas-bar-seattle-web

glass-bar-no.-2-web-

glass-bar-interio-#1-web

PROHIBITION

Confiscated hooch
Confiscated hooch
The Seattle Times registers the public ambivalence towards the prohibition with a pole and prizes! A clip from March 7, 1926, still seven years before the end of it.
The Seattle Times registers the public ambivalence towards the prohibition with a poll and prizes on “the prohibition question.!”   A clip from March 7, 1926, still seven years before the end of it.

AFTER PROHIBITION

Tavern-Counter-w-Rheinlander-beer-signs-and-attendants-web

Pilsener-Pale-Beere-truck-and-trailer-web

FK-HAPPY-PEPPY-BEER-#1-web

Jean makes note of the absence of men.
Jean notes the absence of men.

=====

Thanks to Gary Flynn the Bellingham-based “brewerian” for his writing on Braun’s brewery and many others.   In 2010 Flynn received the American Breweriana Association’s Excellence in Literature award for “Outstanding achievement in supporting the objectives of ABA and the Breweriana community.”

Jean's caption "Either the dark Demon Rum or a member of the Anti-Saloon League rides his ass to the bar."
Jean’s caption “Either the dark Demon Rum or a member of the Anti-Saloon League rides his ass to the bar.”
A Rainier Beer advertisement with a typical topographical mistake. The Bailey Peninsula (Seward Park) is repeatedly imagined and depicted as an island in its most conventional view from the Mount Baker neighborhood ridge above Lake Washington.
A Rainier Beer advertisement with a typical topographical mistake. The Bailey Peninsula (Seward Park) is repeatedly imagined and depicted as an island in its most conventional composition from the Mount Baker neighborhood ridge above Lake Washington.

One thought on “Seattle Now & Then: Albert Braun’s Brewery in Georgetown”

  1. It appears that the railroad tracks were three rail. Was it possible that this site was also served by the narrow gauge rail?

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