Monday, September 14, 2009

Flint Photos: Unknown Brewery

Thanks to Rich Bennett for a second photo.

More info from Gerry Godin: "Here is another photo of the brewery. This is from the postcard history of Flint. This building was built in 1899 and was used as the Flint Brewery. When Genesee County voted to become dry in 1915, a group of churchmen had an idea: 'What better way to show the victory of religion over drinking than to convert a brewery into a church?' Lakeview Methodist Episcopal Church remained at that location for about five years until the congregation left to construct a smaller church building nearby. After that time, the building again became a brewery, then an office for a trucking company, warehouse, electric motor repair shop, welding shop, and a casket and woodworking shop. The building burned, and what remained was razed in 1992.


  1. The building looks like one on Saginaw that used to be called White Seal brewery. The Grand Trunk station was located just east on Fifteenth st. I believe, but don't me to it. unclebuck

  2. Believe this brewery is east side of Saginaw just north of Grand Trunk overpass. Circa '84 there were plans presented to Historic District Commission to renovate this building -- restaurant, leased office space.

  3. Yeah. Unclebuck's got it right. Couldn't recall the name 'White Seal.'

  4. Disclaimer so I don't look more foolish than I normally am -- Unclebuck's post had not yet appeared when I responded at 9:23.

  5. The only thing I remember of it was somebody made a haunted house in the abandoned building one year. They tore it down soon after wards.

  6. I found this info on a web site called

    Flint Hill Brewing Company of Flint, Michigan, USA
    Trade Names for the brewery at 2001 East Saginaw Street, Flint, MI:
    Wildanger s Hux 1874-1877
    William Lewis 1877-1893
    Flint Brewing Co. (15th & South Saginaw Streets) 1894-1912
    Brewery operations shut down by National Prohibition in 1920
    Issued U-Permit No. MI-U-706 allowing the resumption of brewing operations 1933
    Flint Hill Brewing Co., Inc. (2001 East Saginaw Street) 1934-1938
    King’s Tavern Brewing Co. 1938-1939
    White Seal Brewing Co. 1939-1947
    Frankenmuth Brewing Co. 1947-1948

    Viking Beer 1939 - 1948
    White Seal Beer 1939 - 1948
    Glascan Beer 1945 - 1947

    I was way off the mark I first thought it was the old Pfeiffer Brewery near Wood St. and Industrial Ave. After the first two comments I remember driving by right after the train viaduct on Saginaw St. going south.

  7. So, what did their fine products taste like, those of you who may have had an opportunity to sample them?

  8. So the Wolcott Outdoor Advertising occupancy perhaps was during Prohibition?

    And what's the sign in the background say on the top line? And why does it say {blank line} Flint {blank line} Detroit underneath?

  9. It housed the Flint Weekly Review for a time in the late 1950s to early 1960s.

    The paper went daily but then folded. It seems that it was affiliated with the UAW.

  10. JWilly -- just speculation, but the building behind the brewery was the 'bus barn' for the MTA when I was a kid. Prior to that, though -- as evidenced by the trolley lines -- it was, if you will, the 'trolley barn.' (There are City of Flint engineering drawings that show multiple tracks into and out of the building.)

    Although it might not have been the actual ticket office, that building was more or less the northern terminus of the Detroit Inter Urban Railroad, which offered transport via Goodrich, Lake Orion, etc. to, Detroit.

  11. have staggered about Wildanger's Hux or quaffed a half rack of Glascan would have been s'wonderful.

    I think this may have been one of the many properties south of downtown torched by a teenage serial-pyro around this time.

  12. I now remember that a right merge at the bottom of the hill, when heading north on Saginaw, would put you on a ramp right next to the building and would bring you right to the front of the business. At the vary bottom before climbing the ramp, was a lower level of the building with a parking area. In the early sixties a man named, Carson Varner started a business in that lower part of the building called Industrial Mechanical Engineering Co. I know this because, when he was setting the place up, I painted his signs. He was a nice guy, and his money was good. unclebuck

  13. Also, I asked my Dad once, what he thought of the White Seal beer, and he said it was a very good brew. That answer your question Doug? unclebuck

  14. "...that building was more or less the northern terminus of the Detroit Inter Urban Railroad, which offered transport via Goodrich, Lake Orion, etc. to, Detroit."

    Wikipedia says that the line was part of the Flint Division of the Detroit United Railway.

    In modern satellite and aerial photos, you can still see the old roadbed of the DUR headed southeast out of Flint, from the Thread Lake area about as far as Atlas.

    The diagonal right of way influenced other property usage all along its route, even long after the actual tracks were torn out prior to WWII, because the property apparently passed into the benignly retentive hands of Consumers Power rather than being immediately fragmented according to who abutted.

    Thus it continued to exist, and mostly still does, as an odd stripe of bushes and trees through the otherwise-rectilinear and mostly clearcut land uses.

    Here's a map of the stops. I'm interested in what existed at the time to cause the naming of the Howard's, Morris and Myers stops, between the Flint terminus and Atlas.

  15. I have driven by 'Fifteenth Street' many times on Saginaw, but for the life of me cannot place where this place was. Now, there's what looks like a driveway (I'm guessing the street) up a hill, with a large embankment on both sides. This is a link to the bird's eye of the area now:

    I'm confused by the pictures, which look like everything is at the same level.

  16. I think we're guessing that the photos are from the early thirties. I believe the bypass segment of the CN/Grand Trunk line wasn't built until during early WWII.

    Prior to then, all east-west rail traffic had used the original line that ran from parallel to Robert T. Longway, through downtown south of the Flint River, through the Chevy-in-the-Hole grounds, then westward along the general Glenwood Street-Court Street line, finally rejoining the current Grand Trunk tracks to the SW of the Miller Road/I-69 cloverleaf.

    The Grand Trunk bypass not yet having been built, and I-475 not existing yet, the geography around Fifteenth Street was different than now. I think Fifteenth Street generally straddled a hill that defined the north bank of Thread Creek, and kept it from flooding the downtown valley during the spring melt season. (The control of which is why the dam that formed Thread Lake was built, but that's a different history.)

    Thus the slightly uphill street we see in the first photo to the right of the building was the original alignment of Saginaw Street...which was brick all the way down there, as can been seen in the photo. Saginaw wasn't re-routed through the hill until it was necessary to lower it to pass under the railroad-bypass grade level so as to avoid having a grade crossing that would slow highballing trains passing through Flint.

    The original north-south trolley tracks ran southward from downtown along Saginaw Street, and turned westward onto Fifteenth Street. We see that in the photo. Saginaw then ran generally downhill to the original bridge over Thread Creek.

    In the provided map link, it's still possible to see the original alignment of the Detroit United Railway interurban line, which as described in a post above, had its northern terminus at the trolley barn area. Consumers has a medium-voltage line built on that right-of-way that visibly crosses I-69 from the Fifteen Street area to head southwestward along Lippincott. That power line follows the old right-of-way until just west of Dort Highway.

  17. I know a bit about White Seal beer. I worked as a 13-14 year old kid for the McKeigan Drug Store located at the SE corner of 8th Street and South Saginaw starting in 1943. We sold takeout beer amongst other things. One of my duties was to sell the beer, stock the coolers and lug full and empty cases to and from the basement. We sold many kinds of beer such as Carlings Black label, Schlitz, Blue Ribbon, Phiefers, Frankenmuth, Bud and White Seal. White Seal was the least favorite and hardly anyone drank it if one of the other beers were available. The other beers were rationed out at 6 bottles per customer. Rationing applied to beer, because the bulk went to the armed forces during the war. As I recall, White Seal sold for ten cents for a 16 ounce bottle and was not rationed. I remember serious beer drinkers groaning when only it was available. By the way, 10 cents wasn't so cheap when you consider my pay was 35 cents an hour (worth a little more than 4 dollars in today's money).

  18. Clement Barth Concord, Esq.September 18, 2009 at 3:34 PM

    You could still get .99 and even the occasional .89 forty
    of Magnum or Big Bear back in the day, but a .10 bottle of White Seal sounds like a thirst quencher to me regardless of the decade.

    Last time I ever saw Pfeiffer was a 32 oz. bottle circa 1994 in Sagnasty. I would have savored it all the more had I known that they had ceased production 3 years previously. That quart had been waiting so patiently for me to find it, god bless 'em.

    You can still find forties of 11-11 up in Saginaw. Theres a store on Hamilt... wait a second, none of you guys care, right?

    Old Bill, I'd buy you a beer anytime. What'll it be? Blatz?

    You too JWilly. I'd like to buy you a an ice cold Altes sometime... just spare me the history of pre- refrigerator truck beer distribution in Genesee County during the early 50s and it's affect on Croatian bathtub gin production in the St. John St. neighborhood...j/k! Man, you are the true King of Flint ephemera. C'mon, the topography of the pre-WWII lower Thread Creek watershed? Who knows this stuff? You rule.

  19. Yeah, but I didn't know that the women's restroom at the Torch had matching tiles to the men's restroom. (Vague attempt at cross-thread humor.)

  20. that explains the strange split along Lippincott. Someday I hope to know as much as you about this great city.

  21. Heh. I don't know much. It's just that I have unusually nerdy intellectual interests. (Geography, business/industrial anthropology, stuff like that.)

    Regarding the eight blocks of Lippincott that are split...I don't absolutely know the reason, but it's possible that the residential area south of Lippincott was developed prior to Detroit United closing the Flint service, and D.U. would only allow the developer to build one grade crossing over the tracks. Thus the parallel street would have been the only access to the homes on the south side of the tracks.

    Once the tracks were shut down, the rails pulled up to sell for scrap and Consumers became the owner of the right of way, all of the streets would have been connected across for better access, leaving us with the present odd street layout.

    That's just an educated guess, of course.

  22. Everyone has been rattling off numerous nastalgic beer brands available to Flintoids of the 40's, 50's, and 60's, and no one has yet mentioned Drewry's and Goebel to round out a more complete list.

  23. From 1934-1935 the building housed the Dailey Brewing Company. Court ordered sale to the Kling Brewery in 1935.

  24. All of this extensive knowledge about beer history, and hardly any posts about interurban light railways. Geez, folks, we have *got* to get our priorities straight!

  25. Dublin, Ireland has some nice new interurban light railways... and they know their beer as well.


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