Preservation Magazine, Summer 2017

Pabst Milwaukee Brewery Opens in Former Pabst Complex

photo by: Pabst Milwaukee Brewery

In each Transitions section of Preservation magazine, we highlight places of local and national importance that have recently been restored, are currently threatened, have been saved from demolition or neglect, or have been lost. Here's one from Summer 2017.

This circa-1872 structure served as Milwaukee’s First German Methodist Church before the Pabst Brewing Company purchased it in 1896. It housed training facilities, a beer hall, and the Forst-Keller Restaurant, all for Pabst employees, until the early 1970s.

The Pabst Brewing Company ceased operations in Milwaukee in 1996 and is now based in Los Angeles, but as part of an effort to renew ties with the city, the beer company announced in 2015 that it would open a new microbrewery and tasting room in the space.

As part of the restoration and renovation, Engberg Anderson Architects cleaned and tuckpointed the Cream City brick on the building’s exterior, repaired and replaced original wood windows, constructed a taproom in the church’s former sanctuary, and replaced the structure’s original wood-shingle roof. Other historic details include iron gates recovered from the original Pabst complex, now placed at the entrance to an outdoor beer garden, and iron flagpoles dating from the Forst-Keller era.

The brewery reopened to the public on April 14, 2017, and celebrated with a block party in May.

Katherine Flynn is a former assistant editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys coffee, record stores, and uncovering the stories behind historic places.

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