History

Preserving History while Brewing the Future

 

The purchase, development and growth of Schlitz Park have spurred more economic development than in any other area in the City of Milwaukee.  The families that first purchased the Schlitz Brewery property in 1983 as part of The Brewery Works, Inc. organization continue to own and manage the property today.  This stable and secure leadership team has always been at the forefront of advances in commercial development and tenant amenities while respecting and protecting the heritage of its historic, riverfront location.

The success of Schlitz Park and the impact it has had on its surrounding Milwaukee communities has been recognized with numerous local and national honors including the Urban Land Institute Award for Excellence for Large Scale Rehabilitation and the Urban Economic Development Association’s National Economic Development Partnership Award.

The property Brewery Works, Inc. first acquired included approximately 46 acres, and over 2.3 million square feet of building area bordered by North Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive on the west, the Milwaukee River on the East, West Vliet Street on the South and West Pleasant Street on the North. Today approximately 1.5 million square feet of buildings, expansive green space, plazas and free parking comprise Schlitz Park.

Schlitz Park remains a center of employment just as the property was when it was home to the "largest brewery in the world" and “The Beer That Made Milwaukee Famous.”  At its peak, the Schlitz Brewery employed 3,000 people. Today 4,300 work in Schlitz Park, a number expected to grow as further re-investment and renovation is completed and Schlitz Park’s storied history continues.

Founded in 1849 by German immigrant August Krug, the Krug Brewery's first year produced 150 barrels of beer. Following Krug's death in 1856, his widow married the firm's bookkeeper Joseph Schlitz and changed the brewery’s name to Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company. A period of rapid growth followed, with a new brewery at the present location built in 1870. By the time Schlitz died in 1875, production exceeded 50,000 barrels per year. Leadership passed to August Uihlein, and the company was run by generations of the Uihlein family into the late 1970's. 

Except for a fourteen-year drought during Prohibition (when much of the plant was converted to the production of chocolates), output grew steadily. By 1952, production was in excess of six million barrels per year.  But during a protracted labor dispute in 1981, the Stroh Brewing Company of Detroit, Michigan acquired the entire Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company, which at that time consisted of six breweries throughout the United States.

Following completion of the acquisition in 1982, Stroh announced that the Milwaukee Brewery -- the Schlitz flagship -- would be permanently closed.  Shortly thereafter The Brewery Works (TBW) was formed and the sale of the Schlitz Brewery complex from Stroh to TBW was completed in February 1983.

© Schlitz Park | 1555 N. Rivercenter Dr. Suite 209, Milwaukee, WI 53212 | (414) 272-6302
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