Building Description Richter Brewery - Delta Brewery, Escanaba Michigan

The Richter Brewery is a one-to-four-story flat-roof red brick building with low towers marking the ends and arches and round-head windows dominating the front and sides of the plant's main three and four-story front section. The building displays a roughly rectangular footprint, with the sides extending back to an alley in the rear. In back one-story side sections flank a central two-story rear wing. A square-plan chimney stack remains, though its corbelled brickwork-decorated cap has been removed.

The brewery stands mid-block on the south side of Ludington Street, Escanaba's main street, between 16th and 17th streets. It, with the Escanaba Junior High School nearby across the street, forms the west end of the historic part of Escanaba's central business district, which extends east along Ludington Street for about a dozen blocks to the House of Ludington Hotel.

The brewery visually dominates the western entrance into the downtown from US-2, the main highway across the southern Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The building fronts directly on the sidewalk line. A driveway/parking area on the east separates it from another large, later building that once housed the plant's office and a bottling works.

The building's front section, forming an L in footprint with the long upright the building's front facade and the base of the L extending back to the south along the building's west side, stands four stories in height (at the fourth-story level, the east half of the front section is only half as deep, the depth of the tower, as the three stories below it, and the back wall of that part is frame, covered on the outside in sheet metal). One and two-story southward extensions fill out the building's overall nearly rectangular footprint, the two-story part extending north-south down the center. The also nearly rectangular original front section stands on a stone foundation without any basement, while the central and west rear extensions that form most of the southern half of the building footprint stand on a basement with poured concrete foundation walls.

The front and east side elevations (facing the old downtown) display most of the exterior's detailing. In the balanced but not symmetrical front a slightly projecting tower rises at each end a few feet above the parapet of the two-bay wide facade between them. Raised brick piers mark the tower corners and separate the two central bays, and each tower is finished with corbelled brickwork below its parapet. There are shallow arched recesses in the tower fronts and east side at the second-third-story level. These contain large square head and arched windows in the east tower and segmental and round-arch windows in the west. Most of the second-story windows have segmental-arch heads, but round-arch ones dominate the upper facades. The front contained two square-head entries, with sidelights and transoms, in the east tower and the first bay to the west. The east tower entry remains in place, though with modern aluminum door and trim, but the other entry was at an early date moved to the west tower front, where a wood-trim door with sidelights and transom exist today in place of a segmental-arch-head window that shows in the earliest photos. The first floor front between the towers has been rebuilt with broad aluminum-trim glass store windows and a small colonial-trim door at the east end of the east bay adjacent to the tower.

The brewery's side and rear elevations, except for the frontward part of the east side, display unadorned brickwork with segmental-arch-head door and window openings, many of the second-story ones currently bricked in. The brickwork of the street-level front and adjacent side elevations has been painted gray with white trim, and the label DELTA BUILDING, in white letters against a black background outlined in white, has been painted on the brickwork across the central two bays above the second-story level.

The 1906 Sanborn map shows the building in what may have been its original form. The four-story section then extended only across the front, without the base of the L along the west side. There was a one-story "pitching house" behind the brewery, standing at the site of the present two-story central rear extension that runs back to the alley. The October 1913 Sanborn shows the base of the west-side L raised to its current four-story height and the presently existing two-story central southward extension, which must have entirely replaced the pitching shed, and one-story southward extension along the building's east side. The southward extensions are labeled "(From Plans)," indicating they were then not yet built. The 1921 Sanborn shows the last part of the building, a large one-story extension at the southwest corner, in place.

The February 16, 1901, Daily Press contained the following description of the building's interior arrangement:

The office of the company is in the northeast corner on the ground floor and next to it, on the west, is the engine room with [west of that, in the building's northwest room] the cold storage vats, where the finished product is aged before marketed. There are fifteen of these vats on the ground floor, each with a capacity of from 65 to 70 barrels. Directly back of the cold storage room is the racking room and next to it on the east is the wash room. Back of the office is the hop jack and auxiliary engine room, and in the rear of this [on the east side] is the boiler room and furnaces.

On the second floor is another cold storage, containing eleven vats of 70 barrels capacity, a malt bin with a capacity of two carloads, a cold storage for hops which are purchased in bales of 200 pounds each, a storeroom back of the refrigerator, the mash tub and copper beer kettle where seventy barrels of beer can be boiled at once. Ascending another of the numerous flights of stairs one comes to a large room where the meal hopper, the cooker, a cold water and hot water tank, and a beer tank are arranged in order. Next to this room is another malt bin and alongside it another cold storage with eleven of the large casks.

The fourth floor is given up to the grinding mill, where the malt after being elevated from the bins below is cleaned and ground. This room is filled with a fine dust from the malt. Along the sides and over the refrigerator department are ventilator rooms arranged for the circulation of cold air. These refrigerator rooms are provided with very thick walls, double doors and treble windows.

Much of the historic floor plan seems to have survived despite changes in function since the last brewery use in 1940. Except for some of the lower stories' front rooms, which have been renovated for various uses over the years, the building's construction, load-bearing brick walls, wooden structural system with large timber beams carrying sawn floor joists, and plank floors, remains evident. In the rear additions, the two basement rooms beneath the central and west extensions, and the ground floor's southeast room ("Cooper Shop"), added about 1914, and southwest room (labeled "Keg Stock"), added between 1913 and late 1921, round steel columns support reinforced concrete beam structures. In other places in the building, such as the northwest (tower) rooms in the second and third stories, sections of reinforced concrete floor joist systems coexist in the same room with standard timber joist construction.