Monday, November 10, 2014

Forgotten Brewery Caves - Durand Wisconsin

Durand is a quiet little town on the banks of the Chippewa River in western Wisconsin.  It was established in the 1850s when steamboats and huge rafts of logs used the river as a highway for commerce.  Like many such places it got a bit sleepy when rails and roads took over as the main transportation arteries.

Of course it had a brewery.

It was established in 1863 by a partnership of Harstoff and Stending.  A few years later  Phillip Lornez bought it.  The brewery was destroyed by fire twice, first in 1874 when it was replaced by a 2 story 26 by 52 foot wood frame building; then again in 1882 when this was replaced by a sturdier brick and iron building that was 56 by 200 feet.  This should be the post 1882 structure:

A man named Frank Bauer purchased the brewery in 1890 and ran it until Prohibition.  The last surviving structures burned in 1967.

Never a particularly large enterprise, it only brewed 500-600 barrels a year in 1881, rising to perhaps 3,000 a year before Prohibition.

As to location the clues I was able to glean were basically three.  The photo shown above, an address somewhere on West Prospect Street, and the notion that the site was on property now owned by Bauer Built, a successful company launched by (I think) two of Frank Bauer's grandsons.

Taking a turn off of West Prospect onto the small dead end street of 5th Avenue we find this:

I think this may have been "off site" storage.  The photo does not seem to line up directly with this obvious brewery cave which is at the base of a tall bluff.  Also, the Bauer Built company has extensive properties a few hundred yards further south.  Note the bird house is painted in Green Bay Packers colors.  Nobody was home when I was passing through town, but if you turn up at the door asking for more information I suggest you not do so wearing a Vikings jersey.
2017 Addendum.  I have heard an account from somebody who got permission to take a peek inside.  Evidently the cave is collapsed in just a dozen feet or so into the hillside.  This I believe. The current inhabitant of the house was of the opinion that the cave is newer, and had in fact been recently excavated by somebody trying to build a storage space for a car or boat. Hmmmmm, sure looks like 19th century stonework to me, my money remains on this being the sadly defunct remains of the Durand Brewery cave.  T.

No comments: