Preservationists speak up for endangered former North Side brewery

November 21, 2011

A coalition of preservationists are rallying around the former Brand Brewery complex, hoping to stave off a proposed demolition of the ensemble of Logan Square industrial buildings.

Preservation Chicago, the website Forgotten Chicago, Logan Square Preservation and Northwest Chicago Historical Society are seeking to save the former plant, 2530 N. Elston, particularly its oldest structure, a noteworthy 120-year-old former main building that is "potentially significant architectural or historical features" according to the city's Historic Resources Survey. Because of the listing, a demolition permit filed by Key Development Partners has been under a 90-day city review since August 31. As this blog reported in September, the one-acre site, located near big box retailers on Elston, is for sale for $5.8 million.

"We would like to see the building protected and re-used," said Logan Square Preservation Vice President Ward Miller. "Currently it lays within a vast area of strip malls with large asphalt parking lots. This is not a good solution to planning and should be further evaluated in a place like Chicago. There simply has to be a better way."

On Our Urban Times, a website dedicated to Near Northwest Side neighborhoods, Forgotten Chicago editor Jacob Kaplan said "it doesn't make sense to tear down such a historically significant set of buildings when there is already an abundance of vacant space located so close to other national retailers." The four organizations are hosting an event tonight designed to raise awareness around the planned demolition.

The brewery was built by German born industrialist Virgil Michael Brand, who maintained an apartment in the building  seen in the above photos. At its height, the plant produced 250,000 barrels of brew yearly and was one of 40 Chicago breweries in operation between 1890 and 1930 when the city was a major American beer capital.