Photograph of J. F. Wiessner & Sons Brewery, 1911

Photograph of J. F. Wiessner & Sons Brewery, 1911

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This framed photograph captures what was surely a familiar sight in 1911 at 1700 North Gay Street in Baltimore, Maryland. It shows a line of horse-drawn beer wagons with teamsters at the reins in front of the John F. Wiessner & Sons Brewery. Portions of the large and ornate brewery building are visible in the photograph and, along with the long line of horses and wagons, suggest the success of the Wiessner family’s enterprise at the time.
John Frederick Wiessner, born in Bavaria, immigrated to Baltimore and established his brewery in 1863 on North Gay Street. In 1877, he had a new building constructed at the site and the upgraded brewery flourished, producing around 20,000 barrels per year by the 1880s. Wiessner died in 1904, and his sons continued to operate the brewery until 1920, when the enactment of the Eighteenth Amendment, prohibiting the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages, forced the brewery to close. In 1931, the American Malt Company purchased the historic building and began modernizing the plant. At the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, the company began producing beer under the American Brewery, Inc. label. The American Brewery operated at the site until 1973.
This photograph of the horse-drawn beer wagons in front of the J.F. Wiessner & Sons Brewery is part of a large collection of brewing material donated to the museum in 1967 by former brewmaster Walter Voigt, of Ruxton, Maryland, near Baltimore. Voigt’s collection consists of objects and archival materials reflecting the history of brewing in the mid-Atlantic region between 1870 and the beginnings of consolidation and large-scale, industrial production in the 1960s. His correspondence reveals an interest in preserving the history of brewing in America before brewmasters were “replaced by chemical engineers and highly trained chemists in modern laboratories.” Voigt’s papers are housed in the museum’s Archives Center, Collection #ACNMAH 1195, “Walter H. Voigt Brewing Industry Collection, 1935-1967.”
Currently not on view
Object Name
overall: 12 in x 15 in x 3/4 in; 30.48 cm x 38.1 cm x 1.905 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Walter Voigt
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Work and Industry: Food Technology
Industry & Manufacturing
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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Walter was my husband's grandmother's second husband, We called him "Gramps." He was a wonderful man, and I remember him as patient and kind. His daughter is our Aunt and she is a pip! I would love to bring my husband and my brother-in-law to the museum to see Walter's collection, My brother-in-law is a home-brewer, so he's maintaining the family business.

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