Almost seven years ago (was it really that long?) I wrote about a crumbling old brewery in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania, and what a community loses when it loses a brewery building.
Today another abandoned Pennsylvania brewery is getting its wings. The paper I used to work for reports that the former Neuweiler brewery complex in Allentown is being torn down to make way for retail and residential redevelopment.
I’d include a link, except that the story is subscribers-only. I’d also include a photo or two I snapped some years ago while driving past the brewery, except I can’t find ’em. I think I only took them to put on my Instagram account, and since I’ve stopped using Instagram I can’t see my old photos beyond the first dozen or so. It is no great loss.
(The application submitted for the building’s successful entry onto the National Register of Historic Places is available online, and includes pictures and descriptions that will give you some sense of the place. Apparently it was built between 1911 and 1913, and was designed in part by an obscure Philadelphia architect named Kurt Peuckert — or at least he was obscure at the time the application was prepared, before the Interwebs came along. Some of the info they couldn’t find in the late 1980s sits right at one’s fingertips today. Anyway.)
Neuweiler was one of those regional brewers that escaped the snare of Prohibition, only to be cut down in 1968 when national brands began to dominate the industry. The main building of the complex has been empty since the last case left, though the outbuildings were reused for storage and other purposes.
When I lived in the Lehigh Valley, a couple of small-time brewers signed a lease for the property at one point, nurturing all kinds of bright ideas. People I knew who knew more than I did scoffed at the proposed reuse, and it came to naught.
At this point the demolition of the brewery is a loss to no one. Time has had its opportunity to come up with something new, and nothing’s come along in fifty-plus years. That’s a long time to wait.
I don’t know why the Kaier’s building in Mahanoy City stirred me to great flights of lamentation seven years ago, and this one doesn’t … but, this one really doesn’t. Maybe I’ve become cold and unfeeling. Or, maybe the history and the ghosts of Neuweiler have simply had the run of their building for too long.
I wonder casually if it is the last surviving building to come off Kurt Peuckert’s drawing board, or if there are any others remaining. On one hand, he died in 1914, which is a long time ago. On the other, old urban brick can last a long time in thoughtful hands.
He did a bunch of work for long-gone breweries with names like Straubmuller & Son, Rieger & Gretz, Prospect Brewing and American Brewing. A true friend of the brewer and maltster, was Kurt Peuckert.
I knew if I just kept writing long enough I’d get thirsty.