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THE BRONX BREWERS

THE BREWERS, BREWERIES, & WOODLAWN CEMETERY

Figure 73. Illustration of Morrisania featuring the rail and breweries. Small barrels denote breweries.

For New Yorkers, brewing is in our roots.
The tradition of brewing in the Bronx is as old as the seventeenth-century Dutch settlers and colonial forefathers.  Jonas Bronck (1600-1643), our first modern settler, brewed; Jacobus van Cortlandt (1658-1739), father of future New York City mayor (1791), who built the Bronx’ oldest standing building, the Van Cortlandt House, brewed too.  Most housewives brewed at home for their families.  Even President George Washington, whose favorite drink was ale, had his own recipe for “small beer”, or low alcohol beer.  But when German immigrants began to arrive in the mid-nineteenth century, they brought lager beer and took over the industry.

For almost sixty years, the Bronx successfully brewed beer: until Prohibition maimed the industry.  Hupfel’s went into the mushroom farming business.  North Side Brewery and Haffen’s closed, as did Zeltner’s years down the road.  Only three of the remaining breweries at the time continued to brew beer but only at the allowable .5% alcohol (Ebling’s, Eichler’s, and Mayer’s).  It was an end of an era and a way of life for so many Bronxites who’s livelihoods depended on the beer industry

HAFFEN

Figure 74. Haffen plot Woodlawn Cemetery.

The brewery was located at what is today East 152nd street and Melrose Avenue (before Melrose Avenue was constructed) by architect, Michael J. Garvin in 1902.  Four-foot thick walls formed the storage vaults which extended over 200′ to E 151st Street.  Haffen brewery was razed in 1917.

Figure 75. J & M Haffen Brewing Company, vintage poster, 1904.

Matthias Haffen came to the USA from Germany in 1831 and married an Irish woman, Catherine Hayes; they settled in a semi-rural Melrose in a house at the NW corner of 152nd and Courtlandt Avenue.  The Haffens had four sons, two of whom (Martin and John) went into the brewing business.  Their other two sons were high level city officials.  Henry Haffen  was Street Commissioner and Highway inspector and Louis Haffen, a politician.

Matthias was also head of Protection Hall, a tavern/social hall complex at 152nd and Courtlandt avenue which also housed the Melrose Guards, a quasi-military organization that was based there to protect Immaculate Conception Church during the anti-Catholic riots of 1851-53.  John Haffen (1847-1910) who lived at 653 Courtland Avenue became president of Haffen Brewery in 1871; in 1887 he founded Dollar Savings Bank.

Figure 76. J & M Haffen Brewing Co. 152nd street and Melrose Avenue.

Louis F. Haffen  became Park Superintendent and City Engineer and was in charge of street improvements in the 23rd and 24th wards.  He was also the first Bronx Borough President!  Louis Haffen is known as the Father of the Bronx as he was reelected three times. The Haffens are buried on ‘Brewer’s Row’ at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.

Figure 77 Haffen Plot, Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx. Photo: by author, Michelle Zimmer.
Figure 78. Louis F. Haffen the “Father of the Bronx”. Photo: by author, Michelle Zimmer.
Figure 79. Haffen Brewery, 1911.
Figure 80. Detail of Haffen Brewery.
Figure 81. Engine room, Haffen Brewery, 1910.
Figure 82. Haffen Employees, 1896.
Figure 83. Matthias Haffen is seated, Louis F. Haffen is second from left, next to Louis is young John, and to John’s left is Henry wearing white, c. 1886.
Figure 84. John Haffen with derby, fourth from right, seated. Louis Haffen has the long black beard seated next to the sign, c. 1896.
Figure 85. The home of Henry Haffen, 306 east 163rd, taken by his first wife Mathilde. Her parents are on the left, c. 1897.

KOLB
Brewers, Henry G Kolb (d. 1881) and Christian Gottlieb Kolb (d. 1868) were one of the earliest known breweries.  The Kolb brewery was in business in pre-Civil War Bronx (1860) at East 169th and Third Avenue.  Kolb was acquired by John Eichler in 1865.[1]
It was purchased by Rheingold in 1947.

Figure 86. Eichler and Kolb family plots. Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, NY. Kolb sold his brewery to Eichler in 1865. Photo: by author, Michelle Zimmer.

Note that the Kolb plot adjoins that of the Eichler’s family plot.

Figure 87. Details of hops and barley on Kolb memorial. Photo: by author, Michelle Zimmer.

HUPFEL
Originally owned by Xavier Grant, the brewery was located on St. Ann’s Avenue between East 158th and E. 160th streets.  Today, it is the only nineteenth-century brewery still (barely) standing. (Please see bottom of page for the Hupfel Video.)

Figure 88. Hupfel Brewery.

In 1863, Anton Heupfel, purchased the business, and eventually passed it on to his two stepsons, Adolph and John.  By 1883, John became the sole owner.  John had two sons and two daughters; the oldest son, also named Adolf, studied Brewing and “Bacteriology” in Berlin and Copenhagen.  The brewery borders on a ridge and the property came to be known as “Heupfel’s Hill”.
During prohibition, the brewery utilized its caves that were quarried for lagering and became a mushroom farm.

At some point, the family Americanized the name, dropped the first “e” and eliminated the umlaut over the “u.”
Closed in 1938.

Figure 89. Hupfel Ruins. Photo: by author, Michelle Zimmer.
Figure 90. Hupfel and Ehret plots on Woodlawn cemetery map.
Figure 91. Detail of Hupfel Plot on Woodlawn Cemetery map.
Figure 92. Original Hupfel Plot at Woodlawn Cemetery. Rumor has it that there may be two empty graves. This is one of the many mysteries the Woodlawn Conservancy would like solved. Why did the rest of the family want to be buried on another plot, so far from Brewer’s Row? Note the hops and barley on the monument. Photo: by author, Michelle Zimmer.
Figure 92. The newer Hupfel Family plot. Source: by author, Michelle Zimmer.
Figure 93. Monument of the Hupfel’s at Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx. Photo: by author, Michelle Zimmer.
Figure 94. Hupfel’s Ruins. Note the star, masonry anchor plate and shoe. Photo: by author, Michelle Zimmer.
Figure 95. Hupfel south western corner. Source: Photo by Jonathan Bornstein.
Figure 96. Hupfel north corner of roof with foliage. Photo by Jonathan Bornstein.
Figure 97. Hupfel Ruin’s, west. Photo: by author, Michelle Zimmer.
Figure 98. Hupfel’s might have a squatter. Photo: by author, Michelle Zimmer.
Figure 99. Western facade, Hupfel’s ruin. Photo: by author, Michelle Zimmer

 

Figure 100. Author is looking up. While the image is looking south. Hupfel’s alley with the the new apartment complex that replaced Ebling’s ruins in the background. Source: Photo by Jonathan Bornstein.
Figure 101. Top floor of the Hupfel Ruin. Photo by Jonathan Bornstein.
Figure 102. Detail of Hupfel Brewery bricks. Photo: by author, Michelle Zimmer.
Figure 103. Window detail, Hupfel Brewery Ruins. Photo by Jonathan Bornstein.
Figure 104. Southward towards the former Ebling brewery, where new apartments now stand. Photo: by author, Michelle Zimmer.
Figure 105. 160th between St. Ann’s and Eagle avenue.
Figure 106. Looking northeast from 159th street and St. Ann’s. The Hupfel brewery peaks out from a moat of tenements and industry. Photo, by author, Michelle Zimmer.

EICHLER 
John Eichler was born in Bavaria on October 20, 1829 and was apprenticed to the Wolff & Ott Brewery in his hometown of Rothenburg.  Later, he went to work for the Wertheim Brewery in Baden followed by the Hazen Brewery in Berlin where he learned all aspects of the brewing trade along the way.  John Eichler came to the United States in 1853.  At 29 he came to New York and quickly found work at the Franz Ruppert’s, Turtle Bay Brewery in Manhattan where he was employed until 1865 when he acquired the Kolb Brewery on Third Avenue and E 169th street in the Bronx.
(Franz Ruppert was father of Hellgate’s brewer Jacob whose Knickerbocker label was extremely successful and located in Manhattan on second avenue between 90th and 94th streets –later purchased by Rheingold Beer.)

Figure 107. East of Third Avenue and west of Fulton Avenue, near 168th street, Bronx. Photo: by author, Michelle Zimmer.

Eichler lagered his beer in caves in the Fulton avenue hillside.
The Eichler Mansion, on the south side of E 169th street, west of Fulton Avenue, became part of the Bronx Lebanon Hospital complex and was only demolished in the 2010.

Figure 108. Hops and Barley on the Eichler monument, Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, NY. Photo: By author, Michelle Zimmer.
Figure 5. Eichler Brewery, David Mayer Brewery, and Kuntz Brewery, Third Avenue, Bronx, 1887.
Figure 109. Eichler Mansion, east 169th street. and Fulton avenue.

By producing near-beer, Eichler was one of the few Bronx Breweries to survive prohibition.  Eventually absorbed by Rheingold Brewing in 1947, which used the Eichler label until 1950.  It closed it 1950 and the plant was demolished about 1965.

Eichler died in Germany but was also buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.

Figure 110. Eichler Brewery, looking east.
Figure 111 Eichler monument. Woodlawn. Note the hops and barley. Source: by author, Michelle Zimmer.

EHRET
George Ehret (Hell Gate Brewery): Although not a Bronx Brewer, Ehret had a spectacular building in Manhattan’s Yorkville section.  However, there is a Bronx connection as he started his career by working for the Hupfel Brewery in Morrisania.  He also ran a ferry from Point Morris.
Ehret’s mausoleum can also be found at Woodlawn Cemetery and it is spectacular.

Figure 112. Ehret Mausoleum, Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx. Photo: by author, Michelle Zimmer.

EBLING[2]
Philip and William Ebling established their brewery in 1868 on land bought from Anna Beck.  Located on the hillside of St Ann’s Avenue from E 156th to E 158th streets, the brewery complex was officially called Aurora Park Brewery, although everyone called it Eblings. The site included a picnic ground, bowling alleys and dance halls and was used for opera, concerts, banquets and (of course) Oktoberfests during the heyday of the ‘German South Bronx’, 1868-1950.

Figure 88. Ebling Brewery also known as Aurora Park. This map shows the dancehall, parkland, and dance floor.
Figure 112. Ebling Extra Truck

John C Heintz (1862-1933), son of Louis Heintz (First street commissioner and Shnorer’s Club member) married Ebling’s daughter was also the nephew of John Eichler.  John Heintz worked his way up the ranks in the business and eventually became the President of Eichler Brewing. He was also president of the Brewers Board of Trade, treasurer and trustee of New York State Brewers Association, and a director of North Side Savings Bank, among many other positions.[3]
The Eblings are also interred at Woodlawn Cemetery.

Figure 114. Ebling Family Plot, Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, NY. Photo by author, Michelle Zimmer.
Figure 115. Ebling Obelisk. Source: by author, Michelle Zimmer.

DAVID MAYER
Born 1/8/1827, Mayer was a Jewish peddler who worked on the Erie Railroad and as a language teacher.  He married a Miss Bernhardt of New York and had seven children.  Mayer went south and fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War.  After losing everything, he returned to New York and opened the David Mayer Brewery after a fire destroyed his brother’s brewery, The Clifton Brewery in Staten Island in 1879.

Figure 116. David Mayer vintage beer bottle.

David Mayer Brewery-1882-1891
David Mayer & Sons-1891-1892
David Mayer Brewing Co.-1892-1920

ZELTNER

Figure 117. Zeltner, Brewery, 1900.

Located on the north east corner of Third avenue and 170th street.  Heinrech Zeltner was a third-generation brewer from Germany (1854).  He purchased his brewery from Wilhelm Jaeger and  opened a dance pavilion and picnic park called Zeltner’s Park  He also rented a pond in Crotona Park where he retrieved his ice blocks, also called Indian Lake[4]
The Zeltners are also buried on Brewer’s Row in Woodlawn Cemetery.

Figure 118. Zeltner monument, Woodlawn Cemetery. Photo: by author, Michelle Zimmer
Figure 119. Zeltner plot, Woodlawn. Photo: by author, Michelle Zimmer
Figure 120. Zeltner plot. Source: by author, Michelle Zimmer

KUNTZ
From 1867-1902 Major Louis Kuntz ran his brewery on 168th street on the west side of Third avenue.  It was sold by son, Michael to George Gminder in 1902 where it ran under the name, Northside Brewery.  The Kuntz’s  plot can also be found at Woodlawn Cemetery.

Figure 121. Kuntz monument, Woodlawn. Photo: by author, Michelle Zimmer.
Figure 122. Kuntz family plot. Photo:: by author, Michelle Zimmer.

Note the sad but all too common cases of infant/childbirth mortality (wife Catherine died in February of 1871; infant Joseph died 6 months later).  Adolf’s second wife was Madeline Kuntz who had a baby called Josephine who also died at only 2 months of age.  Wife Magdalena died in 1889.
Stepdaughter Magdalene (Lena) Hupfel (Hupfel!) sued in 1899 over father’s will.

RIVINIUS
Another short-lived brewery at 169th and Third avenue.  Charles Rivinius listed as a brewer in the Morrisania Directory in the 1870’s and the Westchester Country Directory of 1869. Most likely absorbed into the Eichler “Empire”.
Also buried at Woodlawn.

Figure 123. Rivinius family plot. Photo: by author, Michelle Zimmer.

 

American Brewing Company
North east corner of Third avenue and 168th street as seen on the Bromley map of 1897.  It was separated from the Mayer brewery by a coal yard.

Bruckner’s Brewery
In 1869, George, Louis, and John A. were the brewers of this Melrose brewery.
Located on Washington Ave and William street (Elton and E 161st).

Clarke’s Brewery
In business in 1870, brewer Robert Clarke’s brewery was on Carr Avenue and St. Ann’s.

Deiderman’s
One of the earlier breweries located on the east side of Third avenue just north of Westchester avenue in the 1850s.
Sold to Peter Kirchof Brewery in 1864.

Diehl’s
Eagle Avenue at Westchester avenue near Eagle  avenue.  Became a chicken business.[5]

Gottlieb Schott
c 1869 St. Ann’s and 156th .

Liebman
Brook and Third avenue. [8]

Jaeger’s Brewery 1855-1860 Sold to Heinrech Zeltner.[10]

 

[1] History in Asphalt 219.

[2] Ibid, 399.

[3] Ibid, 550.

[4] Ibid, 355.

[5] Ibid, 363.

[6] Ibid, 491.

[7] Ibid, 361.

[8] Ibid, 394.  Joel Schwartz, Community Building on the Bronx Frontier: Morrisania, 1848-1875, Dissertation. Department of History, 1973, 61.

[9] Asphalt, 407.

[10] The Bronx Board of Trade, The Great Northside: Or, Borough of the Bronx (New York: Knickerbocker Press, 1897), xv.