Fresno Brewing Company (1907)
100 M Street
Eugene Mathewson, Architect
The Fresno Brewing Company office and warehouse, located at M and Heaton Streets in downtown Fresno, is Romanesque in style and constructed entirely of brick. Built in 1907, the rectangular building measures 42' x 173' and contains a two-story office, single-story warehouse, and a full basement. The Fresno Brewing Company office and warehouse is original and unaltered in its form and appearance.
A concrete office porch is raised 4'5" above ground level and inset with three granite stairs. The porch joins a concrete loading platform that parallels the south side and the north portion of the warehouse. Black fluted cast-iron columns support a corrugated tin awning above the front porch. The awning also covers the loading platforms on the north and south sides. Common red brick unites the building both aesthetically and structurally. The facade and foundation are laid up in an English bond pattern that rises up to a crenelated parapet wall. Reinforced arches add support above ground floor and basement windows.
Semi-circular arches accentuate the double-hung windows recessed into the facade. Above each pair of second-story windows is a classic relieving arch recessed into a second arch. All upstairs windows consist of eight lights. Windows and doors are set in symmetrical proportions to the facade. Two full-length single-pane sidelights flank a solid redwood glass paneled door. A single light clerestory window completes the entry.
Exterior decoration is restrained and limited to the masonry details. Most prominent is a beltcourse below a double stringcourse, under the second-story window sills. A single stringcourse wraps the second-story facade above the windows and a triple stringcourse is repeated at the roofline. The corporal capitals at the top of the facade add a finishing touch.
The elaborate interiors of the Fresno Brewing Company office are original and intact. Inside the doorway is a cashier's window screened by thin vertical bars. A heavy wood enclosure separates the small entry area from the central office. The view in the central office area is of ornate pressed tin wall wall and ceiling treatments. A floor covering of hard black and white rubber tiles, cut in an interlocking jigsaw pattern, is used throughout the offices. The most prominent furnishing is an oak ledger table, attached to the south and east walls.
The east wall is the most striking part of the office interior. Directly in line with entry is an original Mosler walk-in safe. It retains the original gold and silver paint. The safe is framed by pilasters with a broken pediment above. A lion's head decorates the cornice.
Two smaller rooms on the north wall adjoin the central office. Both are symmetrical in shape and measure 12' x 14'. The front office wall treatment is of oak wall treatment is of oak wainscotting with pressed tin walls and ceiling. An elaborate gold chandelier with lamps decorated by cut metal leaves hangs from the ceiling. Adjoining the central office is a combination bathroom and cloak room. The treatment of the wood partitions and wall treatment in this room exhibits exemplary craftsmanship.
The warehouse includes a full basement and measures over 10,800 square feet. Flooring is of granite sheets laid without any binding mortar. Windows pierce each of the fourteen bays in the warehouse combined with a clerestory. On the northwest corner of the warehouse is an original Otis elevator. Parallel to the elevator is a black cast-iron spiral staircase.
Second-story offices complete the building's interior. The main entry walls and floors are of plain, unfinished wood. There is no ceiling treatment. The rafters are left exposed. Walls, floors and ceiling in the smaller rooms are also plain, covered simply with gypsum wallboard.
Attached to the rear of the building is a triangular corrugated metal building. It was added in approximately 1925, and does not contribute to the significance of the building.
The offices and warehouse of the Fresno Brewing Company were part of a twenty-acre brewery complex. The brewery itself was build in 1900 and was located directly south of the company offices. The building was six stories in height with the brewing facility located on the northwest corner. The four-story cellar for fermentation adjoined the brewery on the east. A one-story keg room with basement adjoined the cellar. The brewery complex was demolished in 1955.
The Fresno Brewing Company offices and warehouse remains one of the oldest examples of industrial architecture in Fresno. The design appears to be the work of Eugene Mathewson based on the architectural style, materials, and elevator contract records. It is one of the few remaining turn-of-the-century buildings in Fresno built entirely of brick, which was once a common construction material. The building is all that remains of the brewery, one of the first large industries in the city.
The Fresno Brewing Company was part of the major growth of Fresno at the turn of the twentieth century. It provided jobs for over one thousand people at its peak of production. The brewery also was the first and largest brewery in Fresno, supplying beer from Merced to Bakersfield. The six-story brewery was described as a "sky scraper" because it was one of the largest buildings in Fresno at the time.
Founded in 1900 by Ernst Eilert, the brewery remained in operation until 1919, when Prohibition went into effect. Under the new name Eilert Products, the plant bottled soft drinks and other beverages. Production of beer resumed in 1933 and continued until the brewery was sold to Grace Bros. of Santa Rosa in 1942.
Ernst Eilert and his son, William J. Eilert, moved to Fresno in 1899 from Humbird, Wisconsin, where Ernst owned and operated another brewery. Trained in European brewing techniques in Germany, Ernst Eilert began producing beer in the same manner soon after arriving in Fresno. After his father's death in 1902, William Eilert and Fred Huntzicker continued production.
The brewery was demolished in 1955 after a series of ownership changes. All that remains of the original brewery complex is the brick office and warehouse building, an attached storage shed, and an adjacent wood shed.
Adapted from the National Register of Historic Places nomination, originally prepared by Patrick Supple.