11. THE CLOSING & SALE OF THE BREWERY (1966)
Resold & Operated As Central Sales (1967 - 1994)
THE CLOSING OF THE BREWERY
As previously mentioned in period 10. IBI, it was not completely a surprise when the brewery was closed in May of 1966. A few months earlier - in March of1966 - IBI disclosed that they had 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. This resulted in the loss of nearly 200 jobs, and Covington lost its oldest and larger employer. About 20 drivers had been 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 produced Bavarian/s beer. Unfortunately, most of the brewery workers - many of whom had worked at the plant for years or decades - needed to look for new work. In addition to acquiring the licensing rights to Bavarian/s, it appears Associated also acquired the Bavarian Brewery itself. 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., which had offices in both Los Angeles, CA and New York City. In addition to the Bavarian Brewery, this auctioneer was also contracted to dispose of the Old Dutch Brewery in Findlay, OH, formerly owned by IBI, a few days later. As a result, advertisements for this auction featured lists of equipment for both breweries. Each had the same production capacities (350,000 barrels/yr.) and similar items were available at each auction. The ad promoting 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 owned 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 8A. 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 the I-75 highway. To take advantage of this visibility, the 153-foot stack built in 1906, previously bearing Bavarian's name, was repainted to advertise the Central Sales brand shortly after the 1967 transaction. A picture on the left above shows the stack with the name of Schneider's company being scaled by a couple of 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 potential damage from falling, however, all of the tall stacks were eventually removed from the sites of former breweries in the Cincinnati area. In fact, few remain throughout the entire country.
USE OF THE PROPERTY
Central Sales apparently only used the eastern part 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 and a one-story structure against the Stock House Addition; they 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 and Engine Room were boarded and the buildings went unused, as shown in the photos below. The Stock, Brew and Mill Houses were also closed, except for the Tap Room in the brewery, which was reused as a bar as explained below. The former address of the property had been 528 W. 12th Street; and access point using that same address may have been used for the Tap Room bar. But the main access for Central Sales was situated off of the aforesaid Main Street.
Once the brewery property was closed, its day-to-day appearance changed drastically. There were no longer a couple hundred people constantly going in and out of the property, and there was no one maintaining the buildings. Because Central Sales decided to essentially 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 by vagrants; fortunately, it was extinguished before it did much damage. Due to the reduced activity on the property, and the changing economic profile of the neighborhood, there were also occasional break-ins to the property occupied by Central Sales. These occurred despite fencing installations, security alarms, and other efforts that were made to protect the property. In one break-in, the burglars removed the metal door of a safe in the offices of Central Sales. 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 damaged the grounds in an amount reported to be about $100,000.
THE BAVARIAN TAP ROOM
Even though most of the brewery buildings were unused by Central Sales,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, and it is believed to have been named and located in the same area as the one used in the former Bavarian Brewery. (See Tap Room.) The operators were Jim Courtney and Wm. Frye, who are shown holding a license to operate this facility in the photo on the left, taken in 1978. To advertise their bar, the Brew and Mill Houses were colorfully painted and made 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, the building where it was situated was basically vacated for over a decade. A photo of that area after it was no longer used is depicted on the right, featuring the attractive railing and the original style of lettering that was used above the Tap Room entrance when it was part of the brewery. However, the railing was rusted and the painting on the wood had peeled. There was also tile wainscoting shown near the doors, which was 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, sat vacant for nearly 30 years. Central Sales used the warehouse for storage, 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 over time, 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 containing about 150,000 square feet of space. The exterior of the main buildings retained 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 significant commercial interest. (See period 12. Brew Works and Jillian's.)
The background photo is the former Bavarian Brewery in 1984.