Brewery District, Columbus
|Neighborhoods of Columbus, Ohio|
King Gambrinus is a famous statue located in the Brewery District
The Brewery District, traditionally known as the Old German Brewing District., is a neighborhood located in Columbus, Ohio, USA. Located just south of the central business district and west of German Village, it is bounded by Interstate 70 on the north, South Pearl Street on the east, Greenlawn Avenue on the south, and the Scioto River on the west.
- 1 History
- 2 Geography
- 3 Development
- 4 Transportation
- 5 Important Organizations
- 6 Entertainment
- 7 Structures and Landmarks
- 8 Gallery
- 9 References
The confluence of the Scioto River, the Columbus Feeder canal, and a spring-fed ravine made this area ideal for opening breweries. The first brewery was opened by Louis Hoster, Jacob Silbernagel and G. M. Herancourt in 1836. Hosted soon bought out his other two partners, and significantly increased production of the beer that bore his name. Seeing the success of the brewery, other local businessmen opened additional breweries. At its peak the Brewery District was host to other major breweries: Schlegel Bavarian Brewery/Schlee Brewery (1849-Prohibition), Born's Capitol Brewery (1859-Prohibition), Gambrinus Brewing Company (1905-1974)
Soon after the opening of the breweries, homes were built in the area to house brewery and other industry workers. The area has a mix of German style one and a half story, brick homes and Italianate. Today, many of these historical homes remain and add character of the Brewery District. Carved stone lintels, round, curved windows and doors, and hood moldings are just a few examples of architectural elements that are preserved in the district. The Brewery District Commission, established by an ordinance in 1993, is made up of seven appointees who are charged with the duty to, “preserve, protect, and enhance the unique architectural and historical features of the Brewery District.”
The Commission considers and approves applications for exterior alterations to facades of buildings within the Brewery District limit in hopes of maintaining its character. The breweries flourished during the Civil War, keeping pace with new innovations in the industry as they came, but a little later on, this modernization along with economic depression, caused smaller breweries to struggle. Because some breweries were able to modernize and combine many aspects of their brewing process into one- such as malting, bottling and other steps- the smaller breweries which could not carry out this modernization had to consolidate or close. By 1904, the remaining three large breweries had to merge into the Columbus Brewing Company, mostly due to Temperance movements gaining momentum in that time in Ohio and the start of World War I. In 1919, the 18th Amendment began Prohibition and City Brewery, along with the rest of the remaining breweries, was forced to shut down. Eventually, over the next seventy years, the buildings were sold off and used for various purposes including manufacturing and ware housing. The German character of the area was diminished as most of the German families moved away from the area in order to find jobs after the closing of the breweries.
For the most part, the Brewery District is flat, with the exception of a 30-foot drop in terrain elevation further south. The Whittier Street Peninsula is also a 100-year floodplain, but there are no restrictions on development there because of this.
There are four sub-areas in the brewery district, each with a distinct personality. They are the Northern Tier, the Transitional Tier, the Southern Tier, and the Whittier Street Peninsula.
The Northern Tier is bounded by 1-70 on the north, Pearl Street on the east, Sycamore on the south and Short Street on the west. This tier is close to the Scioto River and contains much of the earliest development of the district. It is characterized mainly by its remaining historic, industrial buildings, featuring lots of brick and having very little to no setback. Some industry still remains in this tier, however, the area has experienced large-scale re-development. For example, the Schlee Brewery was recently adapted for mixed-use, including some residential units and specialty commercial spaces. This project and others have set the tone for the re-development of this tier.
The Southern Tier includes the area south of Frankfort to Greenlawn Avenue, between Pearl Street and the Conrail tracks. This area is primarily residential and is composed mainly of two or three story brick buildings with front yards, streets with side alleys, and other features common in residential neighborhoods. Architectural styles are similar to those in German Village. A loss of character has occurred in some areas of the district, however, due to demolition and re-construction of homes.
The Transitional Tier is very much in transition currently, with large blocks of land having been purchased in order to make way for future development. This tier is bordered by Sycamore on the north, Pearl Street on the east, Frankfort on the south and the Conrail tracks on the west.
Whittier Street Peninsula
The Whittier Street Peninsula, also called the Oxbow, includes all of the area west of Short Street to the Scioto River, from 1-70 to Greenlawn Avenue. The area is used for local government facilities, manufacturing and warehousing. In addition, much of this area is under public ownership and some of it has been proposed to be included in the 800 acre Park plan.
Most of the development in the area has been commercial, as residential uses are generally not permitted because it is a historically industrial area. No new residential permits have been issued since in the past 112 years and only around $72,000 has been invested in alterations since 1990. On the other hand, almost twelve million dollars have been invested in the commercial sector since 1990. Most of the investment, however, has gone toward renovation and alterations.
Although transportation in the Brewery District is limited mainly to car, like most of Columbus, it is fairly accessible. The district has High and Front Streets running north to south, and Greenlawn and Whittier running east to west. There is access to Route 315 as well as interstate 70, but some people in the area have proposed making the access more direct. Additionally, COTA offers several bus routes that provide access to those without cars, including local #7 and #16, as well as #1 and #4 stopping near the north side. #64 and #49 are both express buses that make one stop in the district. In 2010, COTA changed the route of the #21 "Night Owl" bus that runs on Fridays and Saturdays to include the Brewery District, providing students at The Ohio State University much easier access to the district
The radio station CD 101, now CD102.5, also calls the district home. The Germania Club, a German-American Singing and Sports Society, has been in the area since 1866 and in 1927 purchased the former home of one of the prestigious brew masters of the neighborhood, Nicolaus Schlee for use by the club.
In the late 90’s to early 2000’s the Brewery District had once again become a very happening spot in Columbus. It was the destination for all the young professionals on a weekend, with lots of opportunities to grab a drink at the bar or dance the night away. This flourishing period for the Brewery District was short-lived, however, due to the opening of a few bars on Park Street and the brand new Arena District area. Entertainment in the Brewery District started to struggle and shut-down. In order to stay on its feet, the businesses in Brewery District focused on, “becoming more of a destination restaurant,” according to Doug Griggs, owner of the Columbus Brewing Company. The nightlife, however, seemed to be done for good. After 2011, there appears to be the beginnings of a comeback for the Brewery District again. The Worley Building was renovated into a theater and bar complex, Shadowbox Live and World of beer, which has helped to bring life back into the area. Between 2010 and 2012, the Brewery District also gained a new nightclub (Double Happiness), winery (Via Vecchia), live music venue (Outland on Liberty) and several places to dine (Backstage Bistro, T. Murray’s Bar & Kitchen and Section 8 Yakitorium). Those with a hand in the Brewery District and its re-development feel that this time around, the prosperity will be longer lived for the district because it is focusing less on entertainment and being a nightlife destination, and more on having a historical, mature, and residential feel.
Structures and Landmarks
Scioto Audubon Metro Park
The Scioto Audubon Metro Park is one of a kind - it is a 120-acre park featuring everything from wetlands, to a dog park, to a rock climbing wall. A big feature is the Grange Insurance Audubon Center, which serves as a stop for migrating birds. The park backs up to the Scioto river, and is part of an attempt to bring more nature to Columbus.
Brewer’s Yard Kroger
The Kroger in the Brewery District, known as the “Brewer’s Yard Kroger,” has embraced the Whole Food-esque style of grocery shopping – focusing on the consumer experience in order to compete with other stores like Wal-Mart. The store has a Tap Room, which serves specialty wine and beer, making it a popular Friday night destination. Residents of the Brewery District, as well as other neighborhoods of Columbus, often frequent this Kroger for groceries as well as the atmosphere it provides.
Born Brewery Building
The Born Brewery building is the only remaining building of Born Capital Brewery, one of four German breweries which used to be located on South Front Street during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and was constructed in 1895. The building, which functioned as the bottling plant for the Brewery, previously was the Salvation Army Thrift store for a time. In 2007, Edwards affiliate bought the for $2.3 million, originally with the plan of developing it into condos, but are now developing the buildings into 47 apartments. In 2009, Edwards affiliates succeeded in having the building listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Also known as the “Drunken King,” this statue located in the Brewery District was located for a long time over the August Wagner Brewery. August Wagner, a native of Bavaria, came to Columbus in 1900 and started as the brewmaster for the L. Hoster Brewing Company. Later on, the Gambrinus Brewery was built and a while later in 1919, August Wagner bought all the stock, becoming the owner of the Brewery. He made changes to the brewery, including changing the name to August Wanger Brewery, and adopted the statue of King Gambrinus as their symbol, wanting to maintain a connection to his Bavarian roots. King Gambrinus, according to legend, invented the beverage of beer in order to woo his boss’s daughter while he was apprenticing under him as a glass maker. The brewery eventually closed and was demolished as were most in the area, however, the statue of King Gambrinus was saved by the Columbus Dispatch. They had him restoed and placed in a pocket park on the corner of Front and Sycamore, where he stayed until 2000. Now, he sits at in a new park at the front of the district.
- "The Brewery District Plan" (PDF). Columbus.gov. Columbus Planning Commission. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
- "Brewery District". touring-ohio.com. Ohio City Productions. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
- Fulton, Julie. "Brewing Royalty" (4/10/2010). Retrieved 26 May 2015.
- "Brewery District Guidlines" (PDF). columbus.gov. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
- Burkett, Chris. "Business in Brewery District could benefit from COTA route extension". thelantern.com. The Lantern.
- Evans, Walker. "Welcome Back to TheBrewery District". Columbus Underground. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
- "Scioto Audubon". Metro Parks. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
- Turner, Tracy. "New Hangout Supermarket". dispatch.com. The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
- "Edwards Companies Converting Born Brewery Building into Apartments". columbusunderground.com. Columbus Underground.
- "Brewery Distrct". Touring Ohio. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
- "King Gambrinus". forgottenoh.com. Forgotten Ohio. Retrieved 16 December 2014.