Hudepohl’s Smokestack, a Queensgate Architectural Icon

The former Hudepohl Brewing Company building, recently purchased by the Cincinnati Port Authority, has been providing myself and other employees of Queensgate something besides a wall to look at outside our windows ; a history lesson and charming reminder of the golden era of brewing in Cincinnati.

Although the brewery and a significant portion of the building are no longer there, the recent purchase of the building inspired me research and track down some of the history behind this iconic smokestack.

The landmark building was built along Sixth Street, between Carisle Street and Stone Street, when Herman Lackman and J.H. Sandmann needed to expand their brewing operation.

When J.H Sandmann sold his share of the company it was renamed The Herman Lackman and later The Herman Lackman Brewing Company. When Prohibition struck, the company went through an extensive reorganization and began preparing plans for a post-prohibition future. With plans ready for a $250,000 factory, designed to produce 50,000 barrel per year, the brewery waited for prohibition to end. Sadly the company was unable to obtain a federal permit to brew alcohol and the factory never resumed production.

In 1934, Hudepohl purchased the site as a secondary production facility. In 1947 the brewery had undergone a multitude of additions and reconfigurations with the help of Felsberg & Gillespie Architects, who’s name can still be found over the front entrance of the building. Additions continued in 1959 when a new brew house was added to the building and again in 1964 when a new packaging warehouse and service facility were added, and one more time in 1967 with the addition of an administration building.

Content with their additons to the site, Hudepohl’s next move was to buy out some of the local competition. In 1973 Hudepohl aquired The Burger Brewing Company for $650,000. By 1982 Hudepohl was looking to buy again and purchased The Christian Morlein Brewing Company. Hudepohl then merged with The Schoenling Brewing Company in 1986 to form Hudepohl-Schoenling. Schoenling owned a brewery on Central Avenue and in 1987 all operations were relocated to the Central Avenue site. The site sat unused until 2002, when it was sold to Pere Bigelow at a sheriff sale. In 2004 the property was sold to Hudepohl Square, a developer group planning to convert the buildings into a mixed use office, light industrial, and residental complex. The group listed the smokestack up for auction on Ebay for the low price of 1.5 million dollars.

Partial demolition of the complex began in 2004, but a legal dispute with the contractor left the building in its current partially demolished state. The Buildings and Inspectors Department condemned the property in 2007 stating the complex was “in a partial state of demolition and excessive deterioration.”

Recently the building was purchased by the Port Authority and its future remains uncertain. Only one thing is certain, if they tear down that smoke stack and piece of Cincinnati history, my view is going to be quite depressing.