Building Description Peacock Brewery - Rockford Brewing Company, Rockford Illinois

The brewery complex is located in the Prairie Hill neighborhood on the east side of the Rock River. The site is approximately 2.25 acres and consists of two buildings. The main brewery is a 76,000 square foot red brick building. Over the years, the brewery has undergone a number of additions and renovations resulting in an asymmetrically massed building of varying heights and architectural styles. Simple Commercial Style sections can be found; however, the dominant architectural style is Romanesque Revival. The most notable exterior features are the 6-story tower and the large arched windows. The other building on the site is the original Brewmaster's House, a two-story Greek Revival limestone residence built c. 1845.

The brewery is located on the east bank of the Rock River. Rockford's central business district, known as the River District, is located on either side of the Rock River with State Street being its major commercial strip. The brewery is north of State Street on the North Madison Street business corridor. The brewery property is bordered by the Rock River to the west; Prairie Street to the south; Hill Street to the north; and Madison Street to the east. Most of the surrounding commercial buildings are low-rise, 1 to 2-story and constructed of brick or concrete block. The majority of businesses were built between the years of 1930 and 1970. There are a few older residential structures on Madison Street, but most of the residential neighborhood is in the area east of Madison Street. Italian immigrants historically settled the Prairie Hill neighborhood, and two Italian social clubs, the Lombardi and Verdi, are still located on North Madison Street. The residential neighborhood is urban in nature with typical small urban lots. There are a number of different architectural styles dating from the 1840's represented in the neighborhood homes.

A boat ramp is located on the south side of Prairie Street. Further south is the Riverview Ice House, built in the 1970s. This masonry block building has two ice rinks that provide recreational activities throughout the year for the Rockford Park District.

In recent years, the brewery property has been used as a Marina and the riverfront has been improved with a boardwalk and boat docks. There is also a gas pump on the river that provides fuel for boaters. Landscaping has been done to enhance the property. Hardscape in this area consists of concrete blocks with a stone-like look. These were used to create retaining walls, as the property slopes markedly towards the river. Plantings have been kept simple with a variety of sprawling ground covers indigenous to Northern IL, creating a natural look. Asphalt parking lots can be found on both the north and south side of the property with access from North Madison Street. Two paths lead from the parking areas to the boardwalk. These improvements in 2001 made it possible to access the entire perimeter of the building for the first time.

There are concrete receiving docks on the south side of the building along Prairie Street that reflect the use as a storage warehouse. Two railroad spurs served the building with the ability to load and unload seven cars at any one time. Railroad cars were utilized as the primary means of transportation for shipping and receiving for long distances. At one time the west rail spur was an open area and later enclosed with a roof. The rail line is still visible. There is an auger that took coal from the rail cars into a hopper. The coal was then taken to the coal room adjacent to the boiler room situated in the middle of the building's basement. There is not a full basement in the lower level, only a partial. The boiler room also supplied heat at one time to the Cellusuede Building to the west. There is a concrete tunnel and an old railroad spur underneath the east alleyway.

Today the brewery complex is the product of ongoing expansion projects carried out to facilitate the processing, manufacturing, and distribution of beer. Events, such as a devastating fire in 1894, also brought about changes. In the case of the fire, some materials like the masonry walls survived, but many wooden roofs and support members were destroyed and eventually rebuilt. After prohibition, the building was converted to a warehouse. A number of changes were made to accommodate this new use including more additions and modifications to the structure. The resulting building is asymmetrical on the exterior with a rambling, somewhat disconnected interior.

1845 Brewmaster's House
Jonathon Peacock started his brewing business in his personal residence in 1849. This house is still standing, although it has had a number of additions. The original home at 500 North Madison Street is of a Greek Revival design and constructed of indigenous limestone laid in a running bond pattern. The home was built c. 1845, as a T-shaped plan. Frame structures were added to the rear north side when the brewery business was developed. The original 2-story home is a simple gable-front. The house faces North Madison Street and its off-center entrance is located on the south end. The front door is topped with a fanlight transom and protected by a double-bracketed arched overhang. Double hung windows are found on the first and second floor of the house. These have simple stone lintels and sills. There is a wide frieze band that is discontinuous across the gable front.

The south elevation of the house is partially obscured by a brick office addition erected in 1902. This was needed due to the large expansion of the brewery business in 1899. The addition is a turn-of-the-century commercial style with some classic revival details. The double door to the office is on the west side of the south elevation. The entry has a leaded glass transom with the word "office" as part of the design. The entrance is also accentuated with a broken pediment embellished with a center finial. The stone frieze below the pediment also has the word "office" and the build date "1902." Window openings on the office addition have a wide stone lintel and a stone sill.

To the north is a long, but shallow two-story building constructed sometime during 1930 for warehouse storage. Half of the 1st floor is below grade. It is constructed of reinforced concrete with masonry infill. A steel metal building was added as a third story sometime in the 1970s. A number of entrance doors and loading docks face the Madison Street. There is carved classical ornamentation around a few of the doors. The building was originally designed to be five or six stories tall. A local company, Cellusuede, now uses the space for manufacturing. This addition was not part of the original brewery. The warehouse storage building was connected with an infill to the Brewmaster's house sometime in the 1940's or 1950's. This allowed indoor passage from one area to the next. The connecting space was converted to a boiler room for heating and processing in the 1970's when the heating system was disconnected from the Brewhouse.

1857 Icehouse
After a number of years of brewing beer in his home, Jonathan Peacock needed more space to accommodate the growth of his business. In 1857, he constructed the original brewery structure. This was known as the icehouse. The northwest portion of today's building is what remains of the icehouse. It was a two-story Greek Revival design. The building has a limestone rubble foundation. The original limestone walls remain on the west, north and east sides of the building. There is a stone entry portal on the west side, at the river level, which originally received winter ice from the river. The foundation of the original portion varies in thickness from two to three feet. The basement floor was originally 18 inches deeper. This was modified in 2001.

The original building had a wood gable roof that was steeply pitched. A major fire occurred in 1894, which resulted in the loss of the roof. Most of the building was spared because of its masonry walls. Major structural alterations occurred in 1894, and again in 1919, when a new 2nd and 3rd floor were added. The addition of the floors required the construction of new brick masonry exterior bearing walls to enclose the floors. The additional floors have heavy timber columns and wood beams that run in a north/south direction. The 2nd and 3rd floor framing consists of laminated 2 x 6 structural floor deck. The exterior walls consist of a two-color brick scheme that delineates the wall surface from the corner pilasters and parapet. This detail picture frames the exterior masonry elevation. The large window frames on the first floor on the north and west sides are original openings; however, the steel window frames were added in the 1920s. Originally the windows were double hung units. The ceiling of the lower level was modified in 1919 and has a barrel-vaulted ceiling with steel framing beams, corrugated steel form panels, and a poured concrete deck. A large freight elevator in the center of the building was added in 1919.

1862 Stock House
The next addition, to the south, occurred around 1862 and expanded the icehouse and 1st floor production capacity. It had a gable roof parallel to the first structure of similar height. Upper story alterations were made at the same time as noted above. A frame building was also added to the southeast in the 1860s. The large limestone foundation still remains to the southeast. The frame building did not survive the 1894 fire. Heavy timber beams and laminated 2 x 6 floor joists made up the new deck framing. In 1919 this portion of the building added two upper floors and matched the heavy timber framing. A large freight elevator was added in the 1919 modification that was centrally located in the building.

1870 Malt House
The brewery expanded to the south and east in 1870 with a two-story heavy timber addition that included a basement. Space was provided for two kettle mashes, and a malt house on the 1st floor. A boiler room was located on the west end of the lower level. Later in the decade, a stock house and stable were added to the east end. A wood frame stable structure was also added on the north wall. This area was severely damaged in the 1894 fire, and only the masonry walls survived. It was rebuilt as a two-story structure with a gabled roof, cupolas and skylights. Additional major alterations occurred in 1919 with the addition of a 3rd floor, new roof, new window openings with multi-paned lights, steel sash and a new brick veneer on the north and east walls. These modifications provided a more modern industrial look to the building. Stone coping and lintels provide the addition with minimal detail.

Inside, there is a fully exposed elevator gear system from 1919. It is located above the 2nd floor stairwell, adjacent to the centrally located elevator shafts at the west end of the former Malt House. Although no longer functional, this will be retained for future viewing by the public, as it is a distinguishing interior feature. The basement has had its heavy timber beams and columns removed and replaced with concrete columns and steel beams. This probably occurred in 1919 to strengthen a heavily traveled area on the 1st floor; however, the laminated structural wood deck from 1894 remains.

1899 Brew House Building
Built in 1899 and finished in 1900, this building is the most identifiable and distinguished section of the complex.

Widmann, Walsh & Boisselier, a St. Louis architectural firm, designed the brew house. The building's most identifiable feature is the arching windows with five rows of radial header courses as part of the window design. The tall, upper story triple-hung windows make a strong design statement. The foundation is a rusticated Bedford limestone. There are multiple horizontal stone belt courses found in various areas of the facade. The brick cornice has a dentil relief at the tower parapet. The vertical brick pilasters frame the upper portion of the tower and are crowned with half round stone details. The tower is massed into two, four, five and six-story components. The two-story section housed the machine house. It contained the latest refrigeration equipment to provide cooling and ice making for production and storage. The building originally had the first floor at grade. The floor was raised to dock level when it became a warehouse storage building in 1919. The window and door openings were substantially shortened because of the dock construction.

The tower facade is divided into window components and solid walls. Several first floor windows currently have glass block infill. The original windows were multi paned with wood frames. The upper portion of the tower still has some of its original windows. Most of those windows had been bricked-in when the building was converted into a storage warehouse. The roof parapet had "BREWHOUSE" signage located on it as part of the architectural design.

The interior is reinforced concrete floors with steel beams and exterior masonry bearing walls. The large vertical spaces were designed for tanks and brewing production. A large freight elevator was added in 1919 and is located on the south side of the tower. One vertical open stair connects all floors in the center. When the building was redeveloped into a warehouse in 1919, vaults were added on the 2nd and 3rd floors to store furs and other valuables. The 1st floor housed offices on the east side. In 1919 the 1st floor was raised to dock height for transport purposes. A concrete dock was added on the south side. This section of the building has no basement.

1902 Bottling House
In 1902, the Bottling House was added along the river. Brewery laws of the day dictated a separate building for bottling.

The rail spur could now serve two sides of the Brew House and the bottling house. The exterior foundation is constructed with a tapered rusticated limestone similar to the 1899 Brew House. The 1st story is brick with stone lintels over the doors and windows. Building dates are engraved in the stone on the south and west side (river side). The address is also engraved on the south side as "200 Prairie Street." A brick parapet conceals a sloping roof to the north. The original north and east walls of the building were removed in 1919 and the building expanded eastward along the rail spur. The interior is constructed of wood roof joists and deck, steel beams and tongue and groove wooden car siding that served as the bottling house ceiling. The lower level has steel-framed, brick barrel-vaulted ceilings. Small double hung windows provide natural light into the space.

The building was expanded to the north around 1905. The lower level cellar has a barrel-vaulted ceiling but is formed of corrugated steel forms with poured concrete. A large room was used for refrigeration. Steel framing provides support for the barrel vaults. The exterior has brick masonry bearing walls on a poured concrete foundation. The 1st floor windows continue the rhythm of openings in the adjacent structure with stone lintels and sills. The roof has an overhang with exposed rafters for drainage of the roof directly to the river. Small double hung windows provide natural light into the space. It should be noted that up until the turn of the century, limestone was the primary building material for foundations, but after 1900 concrete began to be used extensively. After 1905 concrete was used almost exclusively as a foundation material in Rockford.

The west center section of the building, along the river, was constructed between 1865 and 1880. The limestone foundation walls supported another structure prior to the 1919 reconstruction. The lower foundation walls were reconstructed in concrete probably at the same period that the adjacent south structure was built in 1905. It is not known what the function of this building was prior to 1919. The basement may have initially served as a storage area for ice; however, a chimney is located in the corner of the angled wall area and could have served as a boiler area for heating on one of the processes at the brewery. An 1880 lithograph aerial sketch shows a large chimney stack along the river edge.

The floor framing system is not original. The 1919 reconstruction still remains with the barrel vaulted 1st floor framing of concrete ceilings with the corrugated steel liners. The building had the 2nd and 3rd floors added that were contiguous to the rest of the building.

Building Infill
Sometime between 1913 and 1919 the Malt House was connected to the 1899 Brew House tower. This area was an open alley between buildings. An additional freight elevator was added to the east end of the building in the 1919 renovation. It was added to accommodate the new 3rd floor. The building enclosure matches the heavy timber construction of the malt house.

The south masonry walls of the malt house were reconstructed to be more open with brick piers serving as columns on the 2nd floor. The 3rd floor has a much lighter wood joist framing system designed only for roof loads. The 2nd and 3rd floors have a 2 x 6 laminated wood structural deck, sleepers and a 1" finish tongue and groove wood floor.

1919-1920 Southside Dock
When the infill of the building occurred, a dock was added to the south side of the building and a freight elevator installed on the inside, east end of the original malt house. It should be noted that three freight elevators were constructed in 1919. The foundations are poured concrete. The heavy timber construction, located adjacent to the area, was extended into the new infill space for all floors. The dock has a cantilevered steel framed roof supported by steel rods anchored into the structure. The east side elevator penthouse has a stone coping that rolls up into the masonry of the penthouse. For an industrial building, it still retains some quality architectural details that respected the earlier 1899 design utilizing brick and stone. Built in 1870, the original malt house building had the exposed stone foundations rebuilt in concrete, the brick veneer walls rebuilt and the windows altered to reflect the new Car Garage addition and need for more natural light in that portion of the structure.

1919-1920 Car Garage
The car garage was constructed in 1919-1920 as part of the warehouse conversion. It is a bowstring steel truss, clear span, barrel-vaulted roof with masonry bearing pilasters on the north wall and steel columns on the south side. The roof is constructed of wood joists and has tongue and groove wood decking. The exterior is hard-fired red/orange brick masonry with rectangular window openings. The building has three garage door openings. The space was renovated in 2000 - 2002. At that time, the steel frame windows were removed and replaced with insulated aluminum window units. A plaster ceiling was installed and new lighting and air conditioning were provided. New concrete stairs were also constructed to provide access to the ice cellar of the original building.

1920-1922 Rail Shed
The railroad played a significant role in the development of brewery and warehouse business. This building utilized the railroads as part of its distribution system. The two rail lines that came up to the building (one inside west side, one along east side of the building between the brewmaster's house and the brewery) were linked to the Chicago North Western Railroad System. There were a number of rail spurs located along Madison Street that served the industrial buildings that once were in the area. The large number of rail spurs resulted in designing the Jefferson Street Bridge viaduct over the tracks to minimize disruption of auto traffic. The Rockford Park District utilizes this track today for its trolley.

The west side railroad spur was covered around 1920-1922. It is constructed of brick walls with steel framing. The entry area has a brick parapet wall over the opening. The structure has steel columns and beams that are anchored into the west side of the brew house structure. Wood joists and wood decking enclose the space and clearstory windows face the river. The rail spur still exists and is set into a concrete floor. A large steel floor auger still exists. It once fed coal into the coal room for the boiler. Upper riverside window openings that are in the 1899 Brew House were enclosed when the shed roof was constructed.

The brewery tower (1899) is typical of the type of structures built for breweries in the 1890's. Beer production changed due to the invention of refrigeration and mass production. The tower housed tanks and piping required for brewing. The staggered appearance of the tower reflects the functionality of what was going on inside. The large vertical windows provided natural light to the workers inside the space around the tanks. The brewing process was more of a vertical gravity fed function when this building was built. The building has had numerous additions that were driven by sales, increased production and the modernization of equipment for brewing.