7. The SCHOTT BROTHERS
& WORLD WAR II (1938 - 1945)
In the late 1930s, the Schott brothers divided their shares among their families, including their wives and children. The annual shareholders’ meeting was established annually in November, less than two months after the end of the fiscal year on September 30th of each year. At the first shareholder meeting on November, 20, 1938, a total of 15 Schott family relatives and shareholders were in attendance. Indeed, the ownership of the brewery was a rather large family affair, even though the management remained vested with the brothers and directors. During this first year, meetings were held at 512-537 Lehmer St., believed to possibly be in a room of the Brew House.
On March 15, 1939, Chris resigned, possibly due to one or more factors involving; his other business obligations, his age (71 ) and his reluctance to be involved in the brewery business with substantial expenditures required to make it more efficient. Lou assumed the Secretary position that Chris had occupied and also continued to act as the Treasurer. The official address of the Special Board meetings in 1939 was 535 Lehmer St. and probably continued to be located inside the Brew House. However, at the annual stockholders meeting later that year, the address was permanently changed to 528 W. 12th St., which would remain the office address for the brewery until it closed. These offices were believed to be on the second floor of the Mill House and what is now the Riedlin - Schott Room in the South Wing of the Kenton Co. Government Building. It appears that the stock held by the Chris Schott family was equally divided among the other three brothers, and the total number of owners attending the annual meeting beginning around 1940 was reduced to only these brothers and Directors, with proxies from their family members. The annual salary of each Director from 1938 until 1941 was $3,000.
PRE-WORLD WAR II (1938 - 1941)
Management & Building Improvements
The Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws for the Bavarian Brewing Co. were registered in Kentucky and approved in January, 24, 1938. The brewery was established with $152,000 in capital stock, and each Schott brother received 190 shares with a par value of $100 share. Each brother was also officially named a Director of the corporation. Collectively, the brothers owned 50% of the corporate stock and there were no other shareholders. The maximum liability or debt limit was set at $80,000. Initially, Will's brother George Schott was named the Board Chairman and Chris the Secretary, with no other officers elected. On January 26, 1938, the Directors established the corporate By-Laws. At that meeting, the brothers decided to forgo the position of Chairman and elected George as President, Will as Vice President, and Lou as Treasurer; Chris retained his position as Secretary. (Please see Corporate Material and the complete Articles and By-Laws).
ACQUIRING THE BREWERY OUT OF BANKRUPTCY
The Bavarian Brewing Co. went into bankruptcy and was ordered to be sold in December of 1937. To salvage the brewery, William C. Schott (Will), the husband of William Riedlin's daughter Lucia, acquired the brewery property along with three of his brothers, Chris, George and Lou. They paid $55,000 for the brewery property and all its assets, plus the assumption of $76,000 in liabilities. While this deal may have seemed like a bargain, the brewery had had difficulties breaking even when it was operating in receivership and had previously operated at a deficit. In particular, the brewery needed a great deal of improvements and working capital before it could become profitable. From February through September of 1938, the Schott Brothers spent $100,282 on plant and equipment, according to a note on page 22 of an audit report for Bavarian by Roden & Weiss in 1945. These expenditures were primarily for reconditioning the buildings, equipment and trucks to place these facilities in efficient operating condition. So, the total cost for the brewery a year after it was sold, including these additional expenditures and liabilities, was about $230,000. It must have been rewarding for Lucia to help her family retain ownership of the brewery. However, it required a substantial financial commitment, and they must have realized it would be challenging as well.
The Schott Brothers had been involved in successful businesses before acquiring and reestablishing the Bavarian Brewing Co. They included a business their father had started, the J.M. Schott & Sons Cooperage, and businesses the brothers began after the passing of their father; the Cincinnati Galvanizing Company, Schott Realty, and the WFBE (1200 AM) radio station, which became WCPO after the brothers sold it. The brothers had decades of experience working together in different types of businesses. (Please see The Schott Family.) Their experience with the cooperage had given them some experience in the brewing business, and collectively the brothers had sufficient capital to invest in the brewery and make it profitable again.
Note: There were also other unrelated Schott families in Cincinnati. One of these was the Walter Schott family and his son’s family, Charles and Marge Schott. However, these families were not related or connected with Schott family involved with the Bavarian Brewery.
The Main Brewery Complex
The Schott Brothers acquired the same Bavarian Brewery site in late 1937 as their predecessors did several years earlier. This site excluded several of the older and obsolute buildings that were no longer needed, which fronted on W. Pike Street and were sold between 1925 and 1932. (See the Riedlin Co's. and the Reopening.) What remained were primarily all the newer buildings, which consisted of all of those structures located between Lehmar Avenue and W. 12th Street. Also included was the southwest corner of Main and W. 11th Streets, lying north of Lehmar Avenue, for employee parking and truck storage. Even though the photos below were taken in the 1950s, the brewery site is outlined to show how it existed and how it appeared in the late1930s and 1940s, as no new buildings were added. Select a photo for the identification of the buildings.
Shortly after the Schott Brothers acquired the brewery, they repainted the red brick buildings a cream or pale yellow color. Shown in the photos are different views of main brewery complex in the early 1940s. Left to right are; 1) The Stock House, Wash and Racking Rooms, and the Brew House, 2) the Brew House and Mill House, with the stone structure of a former ice house in front, and 3) the Mill House from 12th street, also showing a portion of the former ice house in front. Please compare these photos with those just a decade earlier contained in the Great Depression & Reopening. Note: The Stock House, beginning with the cars to the left in photo 1, no longer remains. But the Brew and Mill Houses are now part of the Kenton Co. Government Center.
These aerial photos were taken in the mid 1950s, but have been annotated to reflect the property that comprised the brewery when it was incorporated by the Schott Brothers in 1938. The brewery site is shaded in yellow. The photo on the left has buildings identified according to letters and numbers identified in previous periods. Those buildings not shaded had been sold and owned by others.
As the Schott Brothers made improvements to the brewery in 1938, bottled beer was offered in four sizes (12oz., Quart, Half Gallon and Gallon) and advertisements began to appear in newspapers. The main brands the Schott Brothers first used were simply Bavarian Beer for the unpasteurized beer, and Bavarian Master Brand Beer for their pasteurized bottled beer. During the spring they also offered Bavarian Bock Beer. Even though there was an effort to briefly market Riedlin Select Beer by the Voorhees management (1935-1937), it appears the success of this brand did not continue and was eliminated around 1939.
However, about the same time Bavarian discontinued Riedlin Select Beer, they began distributing another beer, Cincinnati's Pride Brand Beer. They hoped would be more attractive to the market across the river from Covington. The name and label of this beer commemorated the Union Terminal train station that was completed a few years earlier. It appears that Bavarian acquired this brand from Old Munich Brewing Co. in Cincinnati, a couple years after it went out of business in 1937. Evidently, this brand was not particularly successful and production may have lasted for only a couple of years. However, around 1940, the new owners of the Bavarian Brewing Co. decided that besides producing a lager beer, they also needed to offer an ale. It was named it Schott (Extra Pale) Ale, after their family. This brand continued until the mid-1950s. Labels used by the Bavarian Brewing Co. in the late 1930s and early 1940s are shown below. For additional labels during this period and a summary of most labels the brewery used, please visit Beer Labels.
A Centennial Celebration
In 1940, to celebrate the Centennial of Kenton County, KY (est. in 1840) and the Bavarian Brewing Co., a banquet was held. Some pictures of the event are shown below. Some months before this banquet, the son of William C. and Lucia Riedlin Schott, William Riedlin Schott (Bill) joined the brewery. Bill had graduated from University of Cincinnati with academic honors (Phi Beta Kappa). Also, in 1940, Bill's brother Louis, who was five years younger, had graduated from Western Hills High School in Cincinnati, which Bill had attended. Louis began attending Dartmouth College that fall. Several years earlier, Will provided financial assistance for some murals installed in this high school, including one by the Cincinnati artist Edward Volkert, which remains today and can be viewed here.