The Texas Quote of the Day is a story about Texas beer and comes from T. Lindsay Baker’s OUTSTANDING 1986 “Building the Lone Star,” which is unbelievably well-documented and needs to be in every Texan’s library:
“Erected in stages between 1883 and 1904, the Old Lone Star Brewery in San Antonio is in fact a complex of industrial buildings. The structures housed a major brewery until the advent of Prohibition in 1919, after which they were used for a variety of purposes.
The Old Lone Star Brewery had its beginnings in 1883, when two San Antonio businessmen, John Henry Kampmann and Edward Hoppe, joined forces to create a stock company to erect a brewery. Their firm, the Lone Star Brewing Company, officially began commercial beer production in September, 1884. They built their brewery on a tract located on the San Antonio River upstream from the downtown business district and conveniently near the tracks of the Southern Pacific Railway. The facility included not only the brewery itself but also coopers’ shops, a bottling works, and its own ice plant.
The ties of the Lone Star Brewing Company to the brewing empire of Adolphus Busch of Saint Louis were strong. Mr. Busch was one of the major shareholders in the Texas company and for several years served as its President. The San Antonio facility was the first outside Saint Louis in which he had any large investment. Because of the link with the Busch enterprises, the brewery buildings were designed by the Saint Louis architectural firm of E. Jungenfeld and Company, with the San Antonio architects James Wahrenberger and Albert Felix Beckman employed as “superintending architects.” The collaboration between the Saint Louis and San Antonio architects was successful, for the complex grew smoothly through the years, section by section, in an expansion and rehousing of the thriving business.
From the outset, the Lone Star Brewing Company seems to have been a commercial success. An article in the December, 1900, ‘Texas Liquor Distributor’ lauded the operation, which at the time had a capacity for over 250,000 barrels annually. This made it the largest brewery in the entire state. The article reported that the Lone Star Brewery was unable to meet the demand for its products, and that, consequently, the company was planning to expand its brewing capacity through a major rebuilding project.
During the summer of 1900, the expansion project began. Over the next four years, many of the original wooden buildings were removed to make way for fireproof pressed-brick structures. Covering an area of 10 acres, no effort was spared in making the new brewery not only efficient but attractive.
As it operated after the completion of the major expansion in 1904, the Old Lone Star Brewery consisted of a number of brick buildings of various sizes and heights, which retained an architectural unity of form and materials. The main plant consisted of five massive brick sections, which varied from two to five stories tall, each with its own roof line. Among the structures composing the complex were the main building, an icehouse, stables, engine and boiler house, bottling works, washhouse, and general offices. Each building provide its own specific needs and was located according to the demands of brewing technology at the turn of the century.
The brewery continued operating until the beginning of national Prohibition in 1919. Its owners then shifted production to a short-lived nonalcoholic drink called ‘Tango,’ but it proved unsuccessful. By 1921, the Lone Star Brewing Company had become the Lone Star Cotton Mills, but entered into receivership within about a year. By 1924, the former brewery complex was occupied by the Lone Star Ice Company, which maintained operations in at least some of the structures as the Lone Star Ice Food Stores until the early 1970s.”
—– T. Lindsay Baker, “Building the Lone Star,” 1986. The book is not just about Lone Star beer but about the building of structures all around Texas. It’s something of a bible for folks like me.
A portion of the brewery grounds (the main building etc..) now house the San Antonio Museum of Art.
Photo of the brewery circa 1970 and courtesy the Texas Historical Commission.