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Photo Essay

Touring The Busch Brewery: The Mystery Remains

You have probably visited the Busch Brewery, for a wedding reception or a special event.  Located right behind the VFW, the brewery holds a lot of history and has also been surrounded by mystery. Would you like to know more? Let’s take the tour!

The Busch Brewery is named after John B. Busch, who came to America from his birthplace in Germany when he
was 17. Several of his brothers preceded him in the USA, and when he arrived he went to work with his brother George at Plum Street Brewery in St. Louis.

After attending college (mostly to learn english), John B. Busch moved to Washington and partnered with his brother George and Fred Gersie to start the Washington Brewery in 1854 (one year before his brother Adolphus Busch founded Anheuser-Busch in St Louis).

In 1855, John built his house (what is now the VFW Building) - only part of how it looks today. The
rest was added in 1888.

The brewery was a frame structure but several fires in the 19th century destroyed most of the original building. It was
rebuilt to what we see today (although some parts are missing).

Fred Gersie died in the 1860s and we aren't sure what happened to George, but by 1880s John was the sole owner and changed the name to John B. Busch Brewing Co.

John died in 1894 and two of his sons continued with the brewery. Another son went to work for Uncle Adolphus in St Louis.

After the death of John, Ulrich Jr, third generation Busch, took over the brewery operations and sold off the equipment during Prohibition. To keep the place open he began selling ice and soda (7 flavors!) and potato chips - but no one at that time knew what chips were and they were discontinued.

The ice harvesting pond was located west of the brewery. The Ice House was lined with cork and ice
was packed in sawdust. After Prohibition, they continued with soda and ice, and began distributing for A-B in the 1930s.

99 years after the brewery began, Ulrich locked the doors one final time.

One of the local corncob pipe factories bought the building and used it to store corn cobs up until the 1980s when the Langendoerfers bought the brewery and began restoration to the condition it is currently.

There have been several businesses in various parts of the building, but only the Washington Brewery Banquet Hall and printer shop in the ice house remain.

However, the brewery, just like life, hides many hidden doors. And when one closes, another one opens.

There is a new face in the picture, and her name is Ginger Collins-Justus. Ginger is working with the owners of the brewery to hold some events in the building this year.

On March 31st, Ginger will have an Open House to kick off our event season. Visitors will be offered free tours of the building and learn about the history and ghost stories the old structure holds.

Yes, ghost stories, you read this right.

Events being planned throughout the year will include overnight paranormal investigations, book signings and presentations by well-known history and paranormal authors, classes, and tours.

Did you know that there's an actual cave in the brewery? If you go on the tour, you will be able to see it.

It's hard to believe that once upon a time this space used to be a Comedy Club. When Ginger took me through the cave part of the brewery, I felt like I was in a 15th Century Castle.

It kind of reminds of a castle, doesn't it?

The whole building is like a labyrinth, and it continues to amaze after every corner. It's a mix of different structures and energies.

So many thick doors leading to the unknown... (or simply outside - you never know until you open them).

The best part is that so much of the old detail is still preserved.

Like this gorgeous door. Once upon a time craftsmanship mattered. It wasn't about quantity, but quality.

For some reason, this reminds me of a scene off of "Twin Peaks". Until recently, it used to be a beauty salon.

Do you think the Busch Brewery is haunted? With all the history behind these walls, it's very possible it is.

Find out more by going to the Open House on March 31st. Taking the tour with Ginger is a lot of fun, and she knows things...

To find out more about the history of the Busch Brewery, click here. If you want to learn more about Ginger and what she does, visit www.MoHistoryHauntings.com and www.PsychicPartyPlanners.com


About Slava

Bulgarian-born explorer in the USA, re-discovering the world through the lens.



  1. Pingback: The Old Busch Brewery…Did You Take The Tour? « Re-Discover Washington - April 2, 2012

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