11. THE CLOSING & SALE OF THE BREWERY (1966)
Resold & Operated As Central Sales (1967 - 1994)
THE CLOSING OF THE BREWERY
As previously mentioned in the IBI Period, it was not a total surprise when the brewery was closed in May of 1966. A couple months earlier, in March of1966, IBI disclosed that they made a licensing agreement with Associated Breweries to brew and bottle Bavarian/s primarily at one of their breweries, located in Evansville, IN. It then became obvious that the Bavarian Brewery plant was no longer needed, and would be shuttered. Besides the loss of nearly 200 jobs, Covington lost its oldest and larger employer. About 20 drivers were able to secure jobs with distributors the year before, and Associated provided two dozen jobs to former employees at their Evansville or Detroit breweries, which made Bavarian/s. Unfortunately, most of the brewery workers, many who worked at the plant for many years, needed to look for new work. Besides acquiring the licensing rights to Bavarian/s, it appears Associated also acquired the Bavarian Brewery. In May of 1966, Associated announced the brewery was permanently closed.
SALE AND AUCTION OF THE BREWERY
In early June, 1966, Associated made it known that they would sell the Bavarian Brewery and all its equipment at an auction three weeks later, on June 28th. The auctioneer was the David Weisz Co., with offices in both Los Angeles, CA and NYC. In addition to the Bavarian Brewery, this auctioneer was also disposing of the Old Dutch Brewery in Findlay, OH, formerly owned by IBI, a few days latter. As a result, advertisements for this auction featured lists of equipment for both breweries. Each brewery had the same production capacities (350,000 barrels/yr.) and similar items were available at each auction. The ad including these two auctions can be seen here. At the Bavarian Brewery auction, all of the equipment and the buildings were purchased by the International Fastener Research Corp. (IFRC) of Los Angeles, CA. However, it appears IFRC was mostly interested in acquiring the equipment and machinery.
RESOLD TO J. SCHNEIDER / CENTRAL SALES IN 1967
Less than a year after the former Bavarian Brewery property was sold at auction, the buildings and land were sold by IFRC to Justin M. Schneider of Covington, KY for $144,000. Schneider had been operating a business in Covington, KY, known as Central Sales. It was a freight and damaged goods outlet, which also sold equipment, tools, lawn statues and building supplies. Previously, Schneider had a facility at 4th and Philadelphia streets, just several blocks north of the brewery. Interestingly, Schneider acquired that property about 10 years earlier, which was also previously owned by the Bavarian Brewing Co.and known as the Sebastian Building. This structure had been used by Bavarian's Bottling Department, after they acquired the Heidelberg Brewing Co. as their Plant No. 2. (See Heidelberg Brewery.) However, the City of Covington wanted 4th Street property to be part of a redevelopment effort in that area. This explains why Schneider relocated.
By acquiring the former Bavarian Brewery property just several blocks to the south, Central Sales was able to obtain a much larger property with excellent exposure to I-75. To take advantage of this visibility, the 153 foot tall stack built in 1906 that said Bavarian's was repainted to say Central Sales shortly after the sale in 1967. A picture on the left above shows the stack with the name of Schneider's company being scaled by a couple men, which is probably how the stack was painted. Several years after Schneider had purchased the former brewery, the tall stack was removed on April 14, 1974, as shown on the right. It was over 60 years old at that time. These tall stacks were iconic landmarks of the old breweries. For fear of the damage that occur if one fell over, none of these tall stacks remain from former breweries in the Cincinnati area. And, few remain in the entire country.
USE OF THE PROPERTY
Central Sales apparently only use the eastern party of the brewery property fronting on Main Street between W. 12th and W. 11th streets. It seems they added an 8 foot fence around this portion of the property, added a one story structure against the Stock House Addition and also used the warehouse, built in 1957. This is partially shown in the photo on the far left below. On the west side of the property near I-75, the openings of the former Boiler House, Engine Room were boarded and the buildings unused, as shown in the photos below. The Stock, Brew and Mill Houses were also closed, except that the Tap Room in the brewery was reused as a bar, as explained below. The former address of the property had been 528 W. 12th Street. That access may have been used for the Tap Room bar. But the main access for Central Sales was off of the aforesaid Main Street.
Once the brewery property was closed, there were no longer a couple hundred people constantly going in and out of the property. And, there was no one maintaining them. Because Central Sales decided to basically abandon the buildings they were not using, they became attractive to intruders and vandals. A fire was deliberately set in one of the former brewery buildings, even though it was extinguished before it did much damage. Due to the reduced activity on the property, and the changing character of the neighborhood, there were also occasional break-ins to the property occupied by Central Sales. These occurred despite the fencing installations, security alarms and other efforts that were made to protect this property. In one break-in, the burglars removed the metal door of a safe in the offices of Central Sales. However, one of the worst break-ins to the property occurred in June,1986, when a truck crashed through the main gate. The burglars then stole items and did damage in an amount reported to be about $100,000.
THE BAVARIAN TAP ROOM
Most of the brewery buildings were unused by Central Sales. However, a portion of the Brew / Mill House was rented for use as a bar in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was called the Bavarian Tap Room. It is believed to have been named and located the same as an area used in the former Bavarian Brewery. (See Tap Room.) The operators were Jim Courtney and Wm. Frye, who are holding a license to operate this facility shown in the photo on the left taken in 1978. To advertise their bar, the Brew and Mill Houses were colorfully painted and very visible from Interstate 75 and 12th street as shown in the photos below.
DETERIORATION OF THE BUILDINGS
After the bar in the former Tap Room closed, that area was basically vacated for over a decade. A photo of that area after it was no longer used is on the right. Shown is the attractive railing and the original style lettering that was above the Tap Room entrance when it was part of the brewery. However, the railing was rusted and the painting on the wood had pealed. There was also tile wainscotting shown near next to the doors, which was also used extensively throughout the building to make the interior easier to clean and maintain.
The other portions of the Brew and Mill Houses, and most of the other buildings, apparently sat vacant for nearly 30 years. The warehouse was used for storage by Central Sales, but they apparently had no use for most of the other structures. Consequently, they were not willing to take the responsibility for their repair and maintenance. A photo on the left shows the deterioration in the Brew House along with the attractive iron railing that remained in the same style as the railing outside of the Tap Room. Even though these buildings were neglected, they were structurally sound, contained about 150,000 square feet of space and the main buildings had an interesting castle-like or fortress appearance. They still enjoyed excellent visibility and access from I-75, and did not go unnoticed. Ultimately, in 1995, they attracted some interest. (See Brew Works and Jillian's.)
The background photo is the former Bavarian Brewery in 1984.