4. The Early 1900s
LATER RIEDLIN YEARS (1901 - 1918)
By 1900 the population growth in Cincinnati was still increasing, but not as significantly as in other cities. As a result, its population was no longer ranked within the top 10 largest cities in the U.S., as it had been for several previous decades. The population of Covington was also growing, but also not at the same pace as previously. Nevertheless, the beginning of the 20th century was one of the most significant for the Bavarian Brewing Co., Inc. The brewery began rapidly expanding its site and adding new buildings in order to increase its production capabilities.
THE BREWERY EXPANDS
The industrial revolution transformed America in the 1800s and early 1900s. The combustion engine began being used for automobiles starting in the mid-1890s and the assembly line was introduced by Henry Ford to produce the Model-T in 1908. This not only had a strong stimulating effect to the U.S. economy, but it caused a transformation allowing people to more easily travel and reside outside of major cities. These changes influenced many industries, with some companies taking advantage of them more than others. The Bavarian Brewing Co. expanded by acquiring adjacent parcels of land in the first decade of the 20th century, and a new building was constructed practically every year between 1902 and 1913.
PROPERTY ACQUISITIONS (Early 1900s)
At the turn of the 20th century, the brewery evidently realized that in order to expand, they needed to acquire adjoining properties. They were essentially landlocked in the middle of an urban block. To provide space for expansion, a few acquisitions occurred in the first decade of the 1900s. Even though discussions probably began in previous years, Bavarian officially acquired the "Tan Yard" property between 12th and Pike Streets in 1904; the building had previously operated as the L.H. Deglow Tannery. They acquired part of it from the Louis and Julius Deglow family, and in another transaction that same year, from George Lubrecht. Additional acquisitions occurred in 1906 and 1908 with purchases from Blanch and Carl Wiel, as well as Monika and Anton Ruh, respectively. These acquisitions ultimately allowed the brewery to obtain most of the property between its original building and Willow Run Creek, and from Pike Street to W. 12th Street, as depicted on the 1894 Sanborn Insurance Map shown on the right.
BAVARIAN WORKERS AS THE 1900s BEGIN
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Bavarian Brewing Co. was poised for significant growth. A picture of workers taken on December 19, 1902, is shown below. The sign in the center of the photo was made by the Cincinnati Sandblast Co. and also used in other photos on this website of the Bavarian Rathskeller and Tap Room. "The Stein," as it was sometimes referred to, was made by Mettlach in Germany and was also known as the "Germania Stein." Below, the barrel with the star indicates Bavarian Beer was made according to the German Purity Law, known as Reinheitsgebot. The noted items are enlarged and shown on the right.
1902. William Riedlin Sr. is standing second from the right and the brew master, Anton Ruh is to his right. William Riedlin Jr. is seated third from the right.
Stein & Sign c. 1900. OOnly a monochrome picture of the sign was available. However, it had bright colors on reverse glass with glue chip lettering in a zinc frame. The "Germania Stein" includes shields of various German states around the bottom. Click either image for more information and also see the Tap Room section for more steins.
The Bavarian Brewing Co. began a planned and continuous building program between 1902 and 1913. They constructed about 10 buildings total in this decade, razing some older structures that were obsolete while adding new ones which were much more functional. These buildings are listed in chronological order on the side. A site map c. 1909 and lithograph c. 1912 both correspond to the chronological numbers on the side and below. Each building is briefly discussed and most are accompanied by photographs obtained from the Kenton County Library and the Schott Collection at the Behringer-Crawford Museuum. Those buildings that still remain today have been repurposed for other uses. Nevertheless, the original brewery site still remains mostly intact, along with such former brewery buildings as the Brew House, Mill House, Bottling Department and Executive Offices. This provides one of the more complete and significant vestiges of a former Pre-Prohibition brewery in the region. In addition, nearby structures associated with the brewery, such as Covington Turners and the Riedlin Residence, also remain.
It is believed that nearly all of the brewery structures built in the early 1900s are covered herein, but it is also possible a couple have been omitted due to the gaps in historical evidence. If anyone has any information about these omissions, or believes we need to modify or add any descriptions, please contact us.
Building Summary (1902-13)
1. Water Cooler & Ice Plant (1902)
2. Stables (1903)
3. Stock House (1903-5)
4. Tall Stack (1906)
5. Boiler House (1906)
6. Engine Room (1907)
7. Bottling Department (1908)
8. Executive Office Building (1910)
9. Brew & Mill Houses (1912)
10. Stock House Addition (1913)
11. Ice Plant (Early 1900s)
THE BREWERY COMPLEX BEFORE PROHIBITION
The initial structure for the Bavarian Brewery was located at 369 Pike Street. As it grew, the facilities were rebuilt to the south and to the north side of 12th Street, and also expanded to the west and the east. This growth occurred during a period of substantial industrial evolution. In the more recent lithograph below (dated c. 1912), the building numbers correspond to those presented in the side bar above and with the descriptions below. Those buildings that are shown in red were removed; those shown in blue remained, although they were repurposed for non-brewery uses.
1909 Sanborn Map. This site plan above depicts the Bavarian Brewery around 1909. Please note, the orientation of this site plan is reversed from the lithographs. The numbers on this map correspond to the sidebar above, the descriptions below, and those numbers shown on lithograph on the left above. However, this plan does not reflect the outlines of some of the buildings constructed around 1909 or afterwards. As a result, some of the numbers are not shown on the specific outlines of the buildings they represent; however, they do reflect where those buildings were located.
Lithographs. The upper left image dates to c. 1912. It contains numbers that correspond to the buildings described above and below. The image below it dates to c. 1900 and the letters on it correspond to buildings described in the previous section, Early Riedlin Years. The lithographs above were prepared by the Cincinnati Lithograph Co. and were used on Bavarian Brewing Co. letterheads, obtained from the Schott Collection at the Behringer-Crawford Museum. (See Stationery.)
In comparing the two lithographs above, it may seem at first that the images are identical. However, a closer examination reveals that nearly all the buildings from the c. 1900 illustration were demolished and replaced, including the Original Brewery Plant (A) and the Bottling Plant (E). All of the other buildings were used for other purposes and not removed for decades. Even though both illustrations are believed to be relatively accurate, it appears some artistic liberty may have been taken. For example, in the c. 1912 lithograph, the Mechanical Building D in the earlier lithograph is not shown, even though it still remained at the time; the earlier Ice Plant F is not properly displayed; and the Engine & Boiler Houses (5 & 6) have too many stories and are not accurate. Additionally, a building with copulas in the c. 1900 image behind the Malt House and Malt Mill buildings (A & B) may not have existed. The river shown in both background images is actually situated in the opposite direction, and a train on the far right in the c. 1912 lithograph would probably not have been visible from the view shown. For more details, please click on any of the images.
INDIVIDUAL BUILDING DESCRIPTIONS & IMAGES
Each of the buildings identified in the c. 1912 lithograph and in the Sanborn Map above are briefly described below.
1. Water Cooler & Ice Plant (1902)
The water cooler was a large structure built around 1902. It was situated just south of the Brew House. It helped produce up to 200 tons of ice daily and was powered by 90hp and 60hp engines. A photo of the tower is shown on the far left of the photo on the side. It was taken in 1911 while the Brew and Mill Houses, on the right, were being built. It is also shown in the site plan below, directly to the left of the Stock House.
2. Stables (1903)
Automated vehicles were in their infancy at the turn of the 20th century, and deliveries of beer and ice were still largely dependent upon horse-drawn wagons through most of the 1910's. The uses of horse deliveries didn't suddenly disappear, but gradually declined. To accommodate the need for more delivery horses as the brewery was expanding, a new stable was built measuring 46 x 188 feet. It was believed to be made primarily of wood, but no photos or additional information of this structure have been obtained. It is believed to have been located as shown on the diagram below.
3. The Stock House (1903+)
The date on this building in photographs indicates 1903, but it may have actually opened a year or two later. This structure measured approximately 175 x 124 feet at a total cost of $150,000. It was made of fireproof construction materials, consisting of steel, masonry and brick, and was four floors in height. The main floor contained the Wash and Racking rooms, as well as the Pitch Kettle and some Storage rooms. The grain storage was contained on the upper floors. The Stock House had thick walls—from 17 to 25 inches in width—with 8-inch cork insulation. A diagram is shown on the right. The photos were taken from the top of the map or from the north, facing south. This building was demolished in 2017.
4. The Main (Tall) Stack (1906)
The brewery had a Boiler House that was coal-fired and that provided steam heat. In order to prevent airborne particles from affecting the immediate neighborhood, a tall reinforced concrete stack was built. This Tall or Main Stack measured 9 feet in diameter and 153 feet in height. It was constructed by the Weber Steel and Concrete Stack Co. under the supervision of the brewery plant engineer at that time, Whitey Brackman. The location of the Main/Tall Stack is depicted on the diagram shown for the Stock House above, and is identified on the photo on the side.
5. The Boiler House (1906)
The brewery contained an earlier Boiler House with twin stacks in the center of the photo below on the left (D); it was replaced by a new Boiler House shown on the right (F). Standing next to this new structure on the right are William Riedlin Sr. and Jr., along with a worker. This photo was taken looking east down what would eventually become Lehmar Avenue. The new structure depicted here had coal-fired steam boilers equipped with automatic stokers and underground cinder-clearing devices that provided steam heat. The photo on the right shows the opposite side of the twin stacks facing west down Lehmar Avenue. The Boiler House is left center in the background. The Engine Room (shown below) would be built next to the Boiler House a year later. On the right of this photo is an entry to an office in the back of the first Ice Plant, built in 1895. Please click the photo on the right below for descriptions and dates of various brewery buildings.
6. The Engine Room (1907)
After the Boiler House was constructed, an Engine Room was built next to it. It is depicted under construction in 1906 in the photo on the side, but was fully completed in 1907. Beside it is a photo of this structure taken years later, during Prohibition. The completion date of the building is noted above the entrance, with A D (After Death) inscribed on either side of the date. In proximity to other buildings, the Engine Room was located on the west side of the brewery and became located on the south side of Lehmer Street. This street, also referred to as Riedlin Avenue, actually divided the brewery property behind Pike and 12th Street to the north and south. The tall stack mentioned above and built only a year earlier is visible behind the engine room.
7. The Bottling Department (1908)
As the brewery expanded, it needed a new structure to replace the framed Bavarian Bottling Department. On the same site, a new two-story brick and masonry building was constructed and completed in 1908. It measured 45 feet x 150 feet. Due to the sloping elevation of the land, the front and north side of the building facing Pike Street was one-story in height with elevated loading docks, while the south side of the building was two stories with direct access to the lower level.
The completion date of the building was engraved above one of the loading docks and is visible in the older photo above. In addition to this photo, both the outside and inside of this building was depicted on postcards, shown below. The address of this structure was 367 Pike St. (This building remains in place today. It was used for a dairy in the 1950s and for Glier's Goetta since the mid-1960s.)
8. The Bavarian Executive Offices (1910)
New corporate offices were constructed on the site of the original brewery, which had been established in 1866 off of Pike Street and then used as a Malt House in the 1880s and mostly for storage afterwards. This was a two-story brick building located at the entrance of the brewery complex. Across from it and on the other side of the entrance was the Bottling Department, discussed above. A photo of an office in this building, considered to possibly be Wm. Riedlin's, is also shown below. The address of this building was 369 Pike Street.
9. The Brew & Mill Houses (1911)
The Brew and Mill Houses were constructed off of 12th Street. They replaced the old Brew House that is shown in the Office Building photo above; it's the tallest building in the background. It was built with fireproof materials, including brick, stone and steel. The structure had holes in its five floors for large kettles, hop jacks, rice and mash tubs, with ventilation to large openings in the tower. There were also interior stairs and an electric elevator that led to all levels. The interior featured white-glazed tile wainscoting. The five-story Mill House was divided into fireproof ventilated bins for the storage of hops, grits, malt and rice. These structures adjoined the Stock House mentioned above, and had doors that provided access between these structures. These buildings also used a former lager cellar, which had been constructed decades earlier for beer fermentation, as a tunnel to connect the Engine Room with the power plant for the brewery. Other underground cellars and passageways that connected additional buildings, such as the Bottling Department and the Stock House, as shown on the Site Plan above. (See section 4B, The Bavarian Tunnels.) To provide more natural light to the top floors, a cupola was affixed atop the Brew House and a skylight roof to the Mill House. The photos directly below show the Brew House on the left and Stock on the right a couple decades after they were built. The photo below on the left shows the Mill House portion under construction in 1911.
Photographs. Above, the Brew House is on the left and the Mill House is on the right. They were both taken around 1932. The photos to the side on the left was taken in 1911 while these facilities were under constructions. Courtesy of the Kenton Co. Library.
Souvenir Tip Tray, 1912. The tray on the left was provided at the Dedication of the Brew House.
10. Stock House Addition (1913)
The last major structure built for the Bavarian Brewing Co. before Prohibition was the expansion of the Stock House built in 1903+. It was constructed similar to the Stock House with brick and steel construction and connected to the east side of the original Stock House. Primary access to the expanded Stock House was from Lehmer Street (a/k/a Riedlin Ave.), which bisected the brewery complex. This addition formed a long and contiguous set of buildings connected to the Brew and Mill Houses. This addition is shown on the 1932 photo on the right. Source: Kenton Co. Library.
11. Ice Plant (Early 1900s)
This one-story structure was situated just east of the ice plant that was built in 1895 and north of the Stock House. Its exact date of construction is presently unknown, but it appears the outline for this building was included on a Sanborn Map dated 1909, suggesting that this structure may have been built a few years before that date. This building was sold around 1930 and later used for an ice cream factory. In the mid-1950s, it was repurchased by Bavarian and used as a warehouse and for bottling. The building was demolished around 2010. This structure is shown center right in the 1932 photo on the right. Source: Kenton Co. Library.
SUMMARY OF THE CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITY BEFORE PROHIBITION
From the extensive building that occurred over the course of a decade, it can be surmised that the structures forming the Bavarian Brewery complex were not randomly built. Instead, there was a deliberate plan and effort to build certain structures in a particular sequence. For example, the tall stack was built just before the Boiler House and Engine Room, while the Brew House and Mill House were only built after the brewery had the boiler, engines and refrigeration capabilities it needed. The last structure—an addition to the Stock House—was only added after other buildings were completed, allowing the production capacity to be substantially increased. The Stock House Addition may have also been built due to the need to store adequate grain supplies, particularly if it was expected that WWI would reduce the availability of ingredients needed to brew beer.
RIEDLIN REALTY CO. (1910)
In 1910, the officers of Bavarian Brewing Co. established the Riedlin Realty Co. to acquire, sell and hold real estate. It was incorporated by Wm. Riedlin Sr. and Jr., Walter Riedlin, Anton Ruh and Clarence Cobb. (The latter was the husband of Riedlin Sr.'s daughter Mayme, or Maime; the couple had married in 1909). These holdings included the ice plant, the brewery properties, and possibly numerous saloons and additional real estate. The business address of Riedlin Realty Co. was located in the same office building as the Bavarian Brewing Co. at 369 Pike Street. A logo for this realty firm is shown on the right. (See Stationery.)
PRODUCTION & STORAGE CAPACITY
By the end of 1913, the Bavarian Brewing Co. was thriving. The brewery’s site comprised roughly 6 ½ aces between Pike and 12th Streets, and it was producing some 216,000 barrels of beer, ale and porter annually. It had a cellar capacity of 25,00 barrels, or 6 million gallons and 5-tons of refrigeration; the bottling department could process 32,400 bottles per day. The brewery employed about 200 people and was the largest employer in Covington, KY. (For a list of employees that worked at Bavarian both before and after Prohibition, please see A Tribute.)
In addition to the production of alcoholic beverages, the brewery had an ice house that produced 200,000 pounds daily for both brewery and public use. By 1915, according to Robert J. Wimberg in his publication Cincinnati Breweries, Bavarian had become the largest brewery in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, surpassing their nearby competitor in Newport, KY, Wiedemann Brewing Co.
In this period, Bavarian Brewing Co. made a lager beer as well as a Porter, Ale and Tonic, presumably all under the Bavarian name. However, it seems that Bavarian may have concentrated on making lager beer at this point and expanded their brands to include Bavarian (Standard) Beer and Riedlin's Select Beer. They may have also made a Riedlin's Blue Ribbon Beer. It appears that, shortly before Prohibition, they also offered a Hop Malt, which had a somewhat lower alcoholic content that its other beers. Some of the labels for these drinks can be viewed below.
BAVARIAN BREWING CO. PICNICS
The Bavarian Brewery sponsored various outings and get-together for their workers and the workers’ families. Below are photos of the traditional summer picnic that was held at Riedlin's Farm in 1910 and 1911. The writing in the lower left photo is that of the youngest daughter of William and Emma Riedlin, Lucia. It identifies her brothers, her parents and herself. It may have been the last picnic her mother attended, as she passed away in October, 1912, possibly from an illness she suffered beforehand.
INDUSTRIAL CHANGES IMPACTING BREWERS
At the end of the 19th century, changes i ice-making dramatically affected the brewing process, especially the making and shipping of beer. Bavarian expanded their Ice Plant and used excess capacity to sell to residents nearby and to provide free ice to saloons that would sell (often exclusively) their beer. But the value of ice would eventually be eliminated as electric refrigerators for the home became accessible in the mid-1920s. In response, the Riedlin Family sold the Ice Plant that had been used by the Bavarian Brewing Co. in 1925.
Another major change involved transportation. Motor-driven vehicles replaced horses used for beer delivery and encouraged urban dwellers to move to the suburbs. Consequently, some stables were converted to garages. (The first trucks Bavarian used for delivery are shown in the photos below.) Another transportation change was the shift from horse-driven trolleys to electric ones. The space above windows inside trolley cars provided a new place for advertising posters. The dawn of the airplane was also at hand, which—when combined with automobiles—would further change transportation, gradually lessening the importance of passenger trains. Although radio didn't develop until the 1920s, it ultimately provided an important medium for advertising and program sponsorship, followed by television in the late 1940s. These changes wouldn't occur overnight, but they would greatly impact brewers in the years ahead, particularly after Prohibition was repealed.
c. 1915. The top row shows similar Bavarian Brewing Co. delivery vehicles; each appears to be a 1.5 ton Wilcox Trux. A couple differences between the two trucks are the type of lettering used on the truck bed and the width of the back tires. The men on the upper left are unidentified; the men in the photo on the upper right are Fred Kleier (left) and George Kleier (right). The 1917 Auditor's report indicated that these trucks were eventually replaced with a couple Packard trucks. One of those is probably the truck in the photo on the right, taken in 1918 with George Kleier. (See Corporate Material.) Other Kleier family members also worked for the brewery. (See A Tribute.)