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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: Julie Dorsie, Betty Bird and Assoc., 01/2002
The National Brewing Company
Inventory No.: B-996
Date Listed: 12/30/2002
Location: 3601-3901 Dillon Street, Baltimore, Baltimore City
Category: Building
Period/Date of Construction: 1885-1966
Architect/Builder: Architect (1899 beer cellar): Otto Wolf; Architect (1933 buildings): Paul W. Backhus
Description: The National Brewing Company complex occupies a large rectangular site immediately east of the Canton Historic District. The numerous buildings on the site were constructed from 1885 to 1966. There are 11 masonry buildings and one corrugated metal building that are in poor to good condition. No machinery or other equipment associated with brewing remains. Nevertheless, the continual modernization of buildings on the site reflects the history of brewing over more than 100 years. The western section of the complex contains a 1948-50 stock house, an 1892-93 grain storage building, a c. 1950 oil tank building, a 1933 bottling plant, and three beer cellars dating to 1885-89, 1899, and 1933. The central section contains a 1939 bottling plant, a 1941-53 case storage building, and a 1960 annex. The eastern section consists of a 1942 garage and 1966 warehouse. The stock house, constructed from 1940 to 1950, dominates the complex. Facing west onto Conkling Street, the brick building has a 9-story center tower flanked by 7-story wings. The principal facade features limestone detail that includes full-height piers topped by roundels, a molded cornice over the second story of the tower, and belt courses above the top stories. The first and second stories of the 7-story wings have large window openings, now bricked in. Otherwise, the building has largely blind walls with only a few small window openings. The east wall is severely damaged due to the demolition of the adjacent 1933 brewhouse, and an eighth story has been added to the north wing. The 1892-93 grain storage building was constructed of brick on a granite foundation in a Romanesque Revival style, and features decorative pilasters, beltcourses, and recessed panels. Copper letters in the front gable spell "The National Brewing Comp'y". The 1885-89 beer cellar is also Romanesque Revival in style, also brick with a granite foundation. This building features granite beltcourses, brick pilasters, and a corbeled brick cornice with drop pendants. Copper numbers between the second and third stories read "1885" and "1889." The 1899 beer cellar is identical, but with an integral fifth story over its east end. The 1933 beer cellar, also brick with a granite foundation, has tapered full-height buttresses and corbeled belt courses at each floor level. Significance: The National Brewing Company, a complex bounded on the north by Dillon Street, on the east by Haven Street, on the south by O'Donnell Street, and on the west by Conkling Street, is located immediately east of the Canton Historic District. Comprised of buildings constructed from 1885 to 1966, the site has been associated with the storage and production of beer since the mid 19th century. The National Brewing Company complex represents the long evolution of a once major Baltimore industry that was closely linked with the city's dominant German population. The complex illustrates how the brewing industry evolved through the changing technologies that characterized both the pre-Prohibition and post-Prohibition eras. One of many local breweries before Prohibition, the National Brewing Company grew to dominate Baltimore's brewing industry after the end of World War II with its best-selling "National Bohemian" brand. By 1954, National was the largest brewery in Maryland and one of the 20 largest in the nation.


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