The Evansville Brewing Association

Back in the day, 1920's, Evansville was known to be "Little Chicago." If you live there like myself, you would have a very difficult time every believing you could even compare the two cities, but at the time Evansville was a booming city. The city had several large hotels facing the river, a wonderful downtown nightlife, and most importantly, four breweries. Yes, a city of probably 70,000 at the time had in fact 4 breweries. The most famous brewery, the Cook's Brewery, went out of business in the 1960's and was raised along with the gorgeous C&EI Train Depot, which Evansville got it's Four Freedom Monuments from, in order to build the hideous and already outdated Civic Center.

The proud, state of the art facility in the early 1900's.

This particular brewery is the only one that I have had anything to do with. It was actually the last large brewery in the city. Now all that's left is what I give you in this page. The building has a long and full history. I'm not certain of it all, but I will sum up what I know.

Several small brewing companies united to create this Evansville Brewing Association, and they built this massive brewery and bottling plant in 1894. It kept that name until prohibition. It then dropped the name and then produced other things like soda. This is when it actually adopted the name "Sterling" which is what most people have called it ever since then.

After FDR helped to pass the 21st Amendment to lift prohibition, the plant started making beer again. This time it was called Sterling Brewers, Inc and they produced all types of beer. Most notably, they made Sterling Beer, which was somewhat popular. In the 1960's, Sterling merged with another company and later sold the whole thing to G. Heileman. He ran the plant from 1972 until 1988 when he closed it. Well this was very big deal to the community. The people of Evansville wanted to keep this running because it was a symbol of our heritage. It also employed a lot of people. Well, the brewery did not die. Is was re-opened later that same year with the name of the Evansville Brewing Company. Three men of Saint status were able to get the plant running and saved a lot of jobs.

As wonderful as this contribution to society was, it only lasted until 1997 when it went bankrupt. Unfortunately, nothing more could be done at this time. They sold the rights to all of their beverages to Pittsburgh Brewing. So, if you buy Sterling, it isn't brewed here. In fact, the plant was raised in 1998. I was pissed about that, and I still am. My father drank Sterling almost exclusively like many patrons. What is really upsetting is the fact that the whole structure was torn down so shortly after the bankruptcy. I thought maybe they really wanted to redevelop that land. It is now 2005 and nothing has been done. It is an empty lot sitting at a busy intersection.

A few buildings were left behind, however, none of them are part of the main building. The 1914 bottling building, which hasn't been a part of the brewery for years, still stands. I am not certain what it is used for. It has several satellite dishes on top and I know they use the basement for the "Insane Asylum" every October.

This building sits rotting. It is in horrid condition and won't last long. I had been wanting to get in since the creation of this site, but it is kept boarded up pretty good. Well, they took the boards down for some reason so I went right in. Getting in was actually incredibly easy though it sits right off of one of Evansville's busiest thoroughfares. I was able to drive right up to it and just walk in.

Update: What was left of the roof has been completely removed. The building was gutted of all rotting materials and stabilized. It was also bricked off. So this structure should be safe from collapse for many years. I am also adding some night shots I took of the place a few years back.

I used some "special technology" to illuminate certain areas. Well. actually it was a flashlight, but it still looks cool.

The front. Inside Window.
The back wall. Side wall. Entrance.

A side angle. If you look towards the middle, you'll notice the roof has collapsed. Closer up. It is adjacent to the old bottling building. These things that were once used to hoist something are still there.

Inside you can really see how ruined this building is. It is without doubt the worst building I've been in. You really can't tell what it was used for. The ceiling is ruined, and there is debris all over the place. What was left of the roof was being held up by two gigantic metal poles.

Just inside. You can see the gaping hole in the middle. A better view of the ceiling. Looking out. You can see the roof support system.
If you look at the ground you can see the old roof on the ground and some grass. A more comprehensive view of the main room.

The roof was really an interesting thing to me. In Evansville, they usually pop wood at the opportunity to tear down buildings in much better condition than this.

A better shot at the poles. I thought maybe it was a fire station until I realized what the poles were for. Nice I'm just glad they put the poles where they could do the most help...

The building actually had a second floor that I was very excited about seeing. Unfortunately, since the roof was gone, water had gotten in and rotted the stairs.

I tried going up anyways..I had to climb just to put a foot through the first stair. Next to the stairs is the, ahem, emergency exit and a support for the roof.

Passed the ruined stairs, there was another room in the back. I really couldn't tell what it was used for, but there were booze cans in there from 1998.

Nice place. Lots of room. Same room looking out. Some wired pillars with stuff on them.
Best I could tell is that it was some type of utility room used for painting. As the story goes, someone shot their brains out in this very room. Some more shelves.
Bob Ross would be proud.

On the way out, I noticed some adorable kittens. Unfortunately, they ran from me. They didn't look like they had much to eat, then I found the pigeon carcasses all over the place that were eaten. At least the kittens didn't starve. Here are some pics I took on the way out.

Debris all over the floor. Meow Mix is gonna go out of business with food like this on the market. I'm glad I had this sign to help me find my way out.
More debris and some chemicals. You can almost get an idea of what it might have looked like. West side of the building.
This is right out in front of the old bottling plant.

My closing notes will be brief. A building of this nature is truly an oasis in Evansville. The fact it's razing has not been ordered yet is quite amazing. I still loathe everything about the fact they tore the brewery down. I really appreciate everything that the Evansville Brewing Company did to keep it alive. It is very depressing that things did not work out. It is more depressing that the building was torn down. I only wish I had this hobby 8 years ago......