A yellowed visitors’ registry and vintage photographs uncovered in a basement storage area of the former brewing complex provide a link to the rich heritage of Pabst, once the nation’s largest brewer.
A calendar on the wall in one corporate office is still turned to December 1996, when the brewing era came to a halt at the 22-acre complex. Dusty ornaments hang on an artificial balsam Christmas tree in another office area, a reminder of happier times when Pabst managers gathered in Blue Ribbon Hall at the end of the week to swap stories and share the product they had a hand in making….
Remnants of Pabst’s brewing history remained behind at the Milwaukee headquarters, some evident in the elaborate carvings and stained glass at its offices and visitors’ center, others boxed and buried in the basement.
The Pabst complex remained undisturbed until developers purchased the $10.3 million property in September 2002 and meticulously began picking through the past.
"It looked like a bomb went through it and wiped out all human life and left everything else intact," said Paul Bertling, a partner in Brew City Redevelopment Group.
Brew City president Jim Haertel and his sister, Linda Gleason, of Mesa, Ariz., poked around a basement storage area.
"We saw piles of boxes and papers. We were like, ‘What is this?’ When we started going through we saw (photographs of) Groucho Marx and Danny Kaye. And we were like, ‘Oh, my gosh, these are people that have visited here and left their mark on this place,’" Gleason said. "It was such a thrill because it was history coming to life right there."
I wonder if they’re documenting this stuff online anywhere?