Historic Structures

Boston Beer Company (Original), Boston Massachusetts

Date added: January 10, 2020 Categories: Massachusetts Industrial Brewery

The Boston Beer Company (not associated with the company founded in 1985 that produces Sam Adams) has been associated with the present site since the company was chartered in 1828. In August 1828, Benjamin Thaxter conveyed to the Boston Beer Company a parcel of land, which Thaxter had acquired in July and August of 1828. It was explained in the deed that Baxter had purchased this land with money provided by a group of subscribers who established a fund for "erecting and carrying on a brewery of malt liquors at South Boston." Thaxter was to hold the land until such time as they were incorporated, at which time Thaxter would convey the land to the subscribers in their corporate capacity. The subscribers, including Gamaliel Bradford, Nathan Rice, Benjamin Thaxter and Elijah Loring, had been incorporated as The Boston Beer Company on February 1, 1828 for the purpose of "manufacturing malt liquors in all their varieties, in the City of Boston." They were authorized to hold real estate not to exceed $50,000 in value and personal estate not to exceed $100,000. The parcel conveyed by Thaxter included two lots, one of which comprises the eastern portion of the present site at the corner of Second and D streets in South Boston. The first was a rectangular lot, which extended west 186 feet from the corner of Second and D Streets and was 90 feet deep. The second lot extended north from the first, running across Second Street and out to the sea. This lot presently runs between West Second and West First streets and is occupied by trailers. Two additional adjoining lots are part of the present Boston Beer Company parcel. One lot purchased in 1828 extended the parcel 27 feet to the west and added 10 feet to the depth of the lot along the south border so that it increased from 90 to 100 feet in depth. An additional lot acquired in 1845 expanded the parcel 30 feet to the west. No deeds were located that would indicate that the property was sold at any time between 1800 and 1899, suggesting that the Boston Beer Company was the continuous owner of this parcel from 1828 until 1957.

Peter Stott's research indicated that the first brewery built on this site was built circa 1851 for Henry F. Cox & Co. brewery. (Stott) In the 1851 directory, Henry F. Cox & Co. is listed under brewers at 2d near D Street and James L. Phipps is listed next to the company name, suggesting he was the manager or a partner of the company. Henry Cox's involvement was short lived, and by 1856, J.L. Phipps & Co. is listed under brewers at 147 2nd Street. By 1858, the address had changed to 149 2nd Street. Phipps & Co. appears at this address through 1860, but in 1861, Henry Souther (Phipps' brother-in-law) is listed under brewers at 149 2nd Street and must have taken over the company. However, by 1863, Souther had apparently moved his operation to 2nd cor. H Street (later 528 2nd Street) where he remained into the 1870s. That company continued under several names including Bay State Brewery, Jones, Johnson & Co., Jones, Cook & Co., and finally Frank Jones Brewing Company until it closed in 1903.

In the meantime, the Boston Beer Co. was chartered in 1828 and appeared in the city directories through 1854. The company is not listed again until 1865. According to the records at the Secretary of State's office, the company was apparently reorganized in 1865 under the original charter of 1828, according to a letter dated 1864. The letter was not available. Information obtained from the deeds suggests that The Boston Beer Company built a brewery on this land at least by 1845 and presumably as early as 1828. The 1845 deed, which conveyed a 30' wide parcel to the Boston Beer Company, mentions that the parcel is bounded to the east by 'Svhat is called the Brewery land." According to Peter Stott, there was no relationship between the first and the second Boston Beer Company, which dates from 1865. (Stott) However, since a deed was not located transferring the property from the first to the second Boston Beer Co., it would suggest that there was some connection between the two. In addition, the 1845 deed conveying a 30' wide parcel of land to the Boston Beer Company was rewritten in 1865 between the grantors, Daniel Denney and his wife Harriet, and the grantees, The Boston Beer Company, saying that this was the same premises "intended to be conveyed to the said Boston Beer Company by our deed dated October 13, 1845." This would indicate that it was the same Boston Beer Company in 1845 and 1865. Also, an Act of the Legislature approved May 15, 1875 authorized an increase to the real and personal estate of the company of an additional $200,000 in value, again suggesting that there was a connection in 1875 to the original Boston Beer Company.

The first Boston Beer Company was listed in the directories at 61 Broad Street in Boston in 1844 and at 47 & 49 Broad Street by 1846. The first entry in the reports of R.G. Dun & Co. for Boston Beer Co. is dated June 1865. The entry indicates this company was recently formed and that they had taken Southers' old brewery. The partners were Mike Doherty, John Miller, James Collins, Carrett Nagle, P.F. Logan, and Robt Moore. Michael Doherty was the president and D.H. Tully was the Treasurer. In the 1865 directory, Dennis (also spelled Denis) H. Tully is listed as the treasurer of the Boston Beer Co. with an office at 19 Central Wharf, but Boston Beer was not listed under brewers for that year. By 1867, Boston Beer Co. is included in the business listings for brewers. The R.G. Dun & Co. reports list the address as 19 Central Wharf with the Brewery listed at So. Boston. The Boston Beer Company does appear as the owner of the property at 249 West Second Street on the 1874 atlas, but it isn't until 1880 that the address at 2nd cor D. appears in the directories. Prior to this, the address given was 19 Central Wharf. This was the office of Denis H. Tully & Co., commission merchants, sellers of fruit and other commodities. In 1868, R.G. Dun & Co. reported that Boston Beer was owned by six liquor dealers who ran the brewery to supply their own retail establishments. It also mentioned that the treasurer was really the Agent for the company and that he was paid a salary. Tully continued to run both businesses from his office at 19 Central Wharf until he moved his office ca. 1886 to 70 Kilby Street. Boston Beer prospered in the late 1860s and early 1870s and in 1872, according to the report of R.G. Dun & Co., they had taken on two new partners: Frank Campbell and John McCormick. With continuing reports of prosperity, by November 1881 R. G. Dun & Co. reported that this company stood "at the head of the list of Brewers in point of sales and continue to pay large dividends." In 1883, following the death of Michael Doherty, James Collins was elected. It appears that by 1889, Tully had died or retired and Edward A. Kinney, Jr. had become the treasurer of both the Boston Beer Co. and D.H. Tully & Co. Kinney's father, Edward A. Kinney, was the superintendent at the Boston Beer Co. at least between 1871 and 1890. By 1895, Kinney, Jr. had renamed the business Edward A. Kinney & Co., commercial merchants, moved back to 19 Central Wharf, and continued to serve as the treasurer for the Boston Beer Co. Edward A. Kinney (probably the son) died in Dec. 1898. The next reference to directors of the company was found in 1922, when Theodore M. Logan is listed as president of South Boston Trust Co. at 474 West Broadway and Boston Beer Co., 249 West Second Street, South Boston. Logan conveniently lived nearby at 560 East Broadway. With the passage of Prohibition which took effect in 1920, Boston Beer had to cease operations. The 1923 Sanborn map indicated the brewery was closed. They were listed in the directories under brewers through 1925 and in 1926 they were listed as a brewer of soft drinks. However, the following year there was no listing at the West Second Street address. In 1930, the building was listed as vacant, except for Genera! Sole, rubber manufacturers, listed as an occupant at No. 225, the former Wash House.

When beer was once again legalized in 1933, a few of Boston's former breweries reopened, appearing in the directories beginning in 1934. Boston Beer Co. did not reappear until 1939, at this time with the following board: Walter A. Carl, president, John R. Kewer, secretary, and Francis V. Logan, treasurer. Walter A. Carl had formerly been president of the Suffolk Chocolate Co. at 367 Broadway, and he worked as an insurance broker with offices at Water Street, while he held the post of president at Boston Beer. Kewer was a lawyer with offices at 85 Devonshire while he was listed on the board. It is interesting to note that in 1942, Theodore M. Logan reappeared to replace Francis V. Logan as the treasurer of Boston Beer, living at his former address at 560 East Broadway. Although, in the late 1930s, no Theodore Logan was listed in the directories. Jas F. Malone had also joined the company as vice president by 1942. By 1952, Kewer was no longer associated with Boston Beer and T. Reed Montgomery had been tapped to become the vice president and general manager.

Drawings at the State Archives show plans and sections for the installation of a 19'-6" lauter tub between the 3rd and 4th floors in Building 3. A hand written note on the drawings indicate that the job was completed July 12, 1945. Although the drawings were not stamped or signed, an attached form for the Department of Public Safety indicated that the architect was J.D. Flaherty, from Green Harbor, Mass. The alterations affected the 2nd through the 5th floors and the new tub broke through the wall and was installed partially in Building 2 and partially in Building 3 on the third floor.

The Boston Beer Company closed its doors in 1957, claiming at the time that they were America's oldest brewery. Carl, Montgomery and Logan were last listed with the Boston Beer Co. in the 1956 directory. Through 1962 the building was listed as vacant, and by 1973 it had been subdivided for multiple tenant occupancy.

South Boston Community Housing acquired the property from A. Hamburger and demolished the existing structures in order to construct 65 units of affordable housing.

The Boston Beer Company was notable for its ranking among the largest ofNew England's breweries in the late 19th century. In 1879, Boston Beer was producing 77,232 barrels annually and rated as the largest brewery in Boston, one of the region's largest breweries, and among the top 16 in the United States, though at the time they only produced ale. Sales for 1882 were reported at 88,916 barrels and in 1884, sales had grown by 21,000 barrels over the previous two years. Breweries were a growing industry in Boston in the late 19th century. At the turn of the century, Boston could claim the distinction of having the most breweries per capita of any large city in the United States and Boston Beer was the city's largest.

Prior to prohibition, Boston Beer produced ale and porter. According to Will Anderson, a knowledgeable author on the subject, tastes changed after prohibition and ale was considered too heavy. Especially after World War II, lager was the preferred beverage. Boston Beer did add lager to its products after prohibition, but apparently the company never regained its previous status and finally decreasing sales led to its demise. Labels found in the building indicate that at the time of closing, the company was producing at least three products: Boston Stock Ale, Boston Light Beer, and Boston Half & Half, ale & beer.

A third Boston Beer Company was founded in 1985 brewing Samuel Adams Boston Lager, Samuel Adams Boston Ale, Boston Lightship Beer, and Samuel Adams Double Bock Beer. There is no connection with the previous company, except it seems the continued success associated with the name has been passed on. The new Boston Beer Company received top awards for its product at the Great American Beer Festival in the first years of operation, and in 1989, Boston Beer moved into the former HaffenrerTer Brewery in Jamaica Plain.