Illustrated History of the Bellingham Bay Brewery:
PLANNING & PRE-CONSTRUCTION
The history of the Bellingham Bay Brewery [3-B] began when Leopold F. Schmidt, president and owner of the Capital Brewing Company of Tumwater, soon to become the Olympia Brewing Company, chose the site for the company's newest brewery. He selected the city of Whatcom as the site for his new plant as it was ideally located on the northern end of Puget Sound, in the northwest corner of Washington State.
Situated on Bellingham Bay, the mill town made an excellent distribution hub. It had, not only a fine seaport with the largest and most perfect landlocked harbor on the Pacific Coast, 25miles nearer the ocean and l00 miles nearer Alaska than any Puget Sound rival, but was also served by the Bellingham Bay & British Columbia Railroad. Plus, the BB & BC connected with a terminus of three transcontinental railroads: the Great Northern, the Northern Pacific, and the Canadian Pacific railways. This water & rail distribution advantage was reflected in the 3-B trade mark (above) - reg. 31 Sept. 1902. Schmidt stated that the plant will be employed almost entirely in supplying the growing foreign trade in export lager beer from the Pacific Coast.
The story of the Bellingham Bay Brewery would be incomplete without the mention of Henry Schupp. Henry emigrated from Germany in 1882, and arrived in Montana Territory in 1889, there befriending Leopold Schmidt. The two friends soon formed a partnership and established the Merchants Hotel. While Henry was at Basin, he and Leopold, then living in Butte, formed another partnership to drill an artesian well and build a waterworks system at Basin. When Leopold moved to Washington Territory to build his new brewery in 1895, Henry joined him the following year. He became secretary/treasurer of newly established Capital Brewing Company, and when plans were made to build a new branch plant in Whatcom (to become Bellingham in 1904) Leopold chose his most trusted associate to be the on site representative. The 1901 Whatcom City Directory lists Henry Schupp, manager of the Capital Brewing Co. Depot at Ohio & N. Elk (site of the new brewery). See obit of H.H. Schupp
Schupp was receiving constant instructions from Tumwater during these planning stages in 1901. In February plans were laid for a cold storage building to the east of the railroad tracks, and for a rail head to deliver mill goods to the construction site. A local newspaper, the Daily Reveille, announced:
On the 5th of March the contract was let for ½ million bricks, and on the 31st of March instructions were issued to commence building the Ice Factory & Cold Storage facility. The plan was for the 83' X 45' structure to be finished as soon as possible, as machinery was arriving from Chicago and Schmidt wanted to be able to freeze by 15 June. The brewery was to be constructed adjacent to the Ice plant. The Ice plant project apparently stayed on schedule. The 1902 City Directory carried an ad on the back cover stating:
Actual construction of the Bellingham Bay Brewery began on January 10, 1902, but this was not the first brewery to bear the 3-B name. While not affiliated with Schmidt's future brewery, a "Bellingham Bay Brewery & Saloon" was est. in 1885 by Jacob Beck. The source for his brewery's water was Chinook Creek, and it's probable that it was a water quality issue that terminated production of his 5¢ a glass "Whatcom Beer" for after only one year he closed his brewery. He later built the landmark Beck's Theater at a cost of $155,000, then the largest and finest opera house in the West, seating 2,200.
The brewery is located on North Elk street; it is an imposing five-story structure, with a frontage of 182 feet, 85 feet high and 84 feet deep, a brick smokestack 100 feet high, fourteen feet in diameter at its base and seven feet on top. The structure is built entirely of stone, brick and iron with concrete and asphalt floors and may be classed among the few fireproof buildings in Washington. It required in its construction one million bricks, forty carloads of stone, ten carloads of cement and eight carloads of structural iron, besides the lime, sand, concrete, stone, etc.
The structure was built after the plans and specifications made by the well known brewery architect, Richard Griesser, of Chicago, and the construction was superintended by Robt. Weismann, of the same city, who has been busily engaged ever since the 10th of January in pushing this work to completion.
The most prominent features in this machine room (left) are a 150 horsepower Corlise engine and two forty- ton ice machines, furnished by the Vitter Manufacturing Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There is a 65 horsepower Ide high-speed engine, one 300 volt dynamo, various large power pumps, a Gardner Air compressor, and a complete carbonic gas-collecting plant and compressor. The wash house (right) and racking room are furnished with the most modern and improved labor-saving devices so far invented for the use of breweries.
This plant will have the capacity or rather yearly output of 50,000 barrels of beer. To Mr. Leopold F. Schmidt, president of the Olympia Brewing Company, Olympia, belongs the credit of selecting Whatcom for this great enterprise, he having long ago recognized the advantages and great future of Whatcom and Whatcom County. Mr. Schmidt is well known for his great business ability and boundless energy, upright, straight and strict in his dealings and has the esteem of all his fellow citizens and there will be no question but that he will make as grand a success of this new plant as he did out of the now famous Olympia brewery.
F. L. Fitch, who has been connected with the Schneible Company for the past fifteen years, superintended the installing of the Schneible machinery. In speaking of that system of brewing to a Reveille reporter yesterday Mr. Fitch said:
The Bellingham Bay Brewery Company occupies nearly an entire block of ground with its brewery, storehouses and ice plant. It is admirably situated on the B.B. & B.C. railroad and has a side track of its own to which cars from any of the roads may be switched.
The cellar of the brewery has a storage capacity of 50,000 barrels (left) and by using the brew-house 100,000 barrels of beer can be stored in the establishment at one time. Six carloads of malt have already arrived and there are five more cars on the road.
An addition to the new ice plant (right), that was erected a year ago, will be enlarged to almost treble its present capacity, which will be about twenty tons of ice daily."
The brewery's first label (below) depicted three honey bees as an obvious play on the 3-B brand name. When registered the company stated that the trade mark had been in use since 31 Dec. 1902. Also the label uses Whatcom instead of Bellingham, which became the city's name on October 1904. When Whatcom was removed from the label, so were the "three bees" and they were no longer a part of the brewery's trade mark.
With the brewery on-line 3-B now had to secure the local market, as well as a west coast market, to utilize its capacity and maximize profits. The only local competition was from the Whatcom Brewing & Malting Co., and "imports" from Seattle and Tacoma. Founded in 1899 by Fritz Grathwohl, and after an unprofitable two and a half years, he sold out to a group of Bellingham businessmen for $20,000. This group was comprised of the brewery's superintendent and local saloon owners - and it appears that Leopold Schmidt was behind this takeover.
The 3-B had been in operation a mere two weeks when Schmidt completed his planned takeover. On 13 January of 1903, after only nine months, the revitalized brewery was absorbed by 3-B for $50,000. A number of the saloon owners took stock in 3-B for part of their holdings, and all ten saloons were now "tied-houses."
"Two dozen ½ pint bottles of 3-B Beer - Delivered to your home for $1.00 - Just think of it, it's cheaper than city water. Try a case."
The half-pint bottles (above) mentioned in the ad were manufactured by the Holt Glass Works of West Berkeley, CA. Since the bottles read "Whatcom" instead of "Bellingham," we know that these bottles were made prior to the town's name change in October, 1904 - and were probably the same bottles mentioned in the 1903 announcement above. With the change in the city's name it would be expected that new bottles would have been ordered to reflect the change, but no such bottles have been found. Even if they re-ordered bottle with the original bottle mold, none could have been made after April 18, 1906 when the SF earthquake destroyed the Holt Glass Works. The Brewery did however, change "Whatcom" to "Bellingham" when they replaced the original crates.
Bellingham Bay Brewery show wagon, c.1905
The breweries used any method to promote their product, and what better vehicle than a parade wagon? They also entered displays of their goods at fairs and expos. This display was no doubt photographed because it won a medal (for best brewery display) at the 1905 Lewis & Clark Exposition in Portland. It showed many of the promotional items from the Brewery, including signs, bottles, trays, glasses, foam scrapers, bottle openers, and labels.
A nice promotional item was this nickel coated, "clam shell" match safe from 1903 . The match was removed by gripping it in the cutout and lifting the spring loaded lid enough to free it. There are grooved end plates for striking the match.
Another way to promote the brand was to own a baseball team. The traditional link between beer and baseball is usually attributed to Colonel Jacob Ruppert, owner of the New York Yankees. However, it appears that Leopold Schmidt was just as innovative, and his team pre-dates the Yankees by about 10 years. While his Bellingham team never produced the likes of the class-A Bellingham Mariner's, Ken Griffey, Jr., it was still a local hit.
The most widespread method used by breweries to promote their brand of beer was to place their name on various items utilized by the primary purveyors - the saloons. The most obvious was the outdoor signs many of which were quite decorative. Most were "reverse-painted-on glass" or porcelain, and are highly prized by collectors.
Other steins were used as enticements, most of which depicted monks in various activities - usually related to the consumption of food or drink. There were sets of six mugs with a tall pitcher, that came in brown, green or gray. These sets were imported from France and were manufactured by the Lebeau Porcelain Co. The first sets were given away in June, 1906.
Another common advertising item was the beer tray. 3-B ordered its first tray, an original graphic depicting the factory, (below) from Chas. W. Shonk of Chicago, IL. The rest of its trays were "stock trays" which meant that they were not unique to
Cap lifter or "church key" c. 1910. It was meant to be placed on a key chain and had the additional feature of a Prest-O-Lite key. This square hole served as a wrench to open the valve on carbide tanks located on the running boards of early autos. When the valve was opened, it supplied gas for the headlights.
An unusual piece, and one that is unique, is a hand painted display plate depicting the brewery in high relief (below). These were given away with the purchase of a case of beer in December of 1904 and 1905. The brewery referred to them as "Austrian plaques". Each was hand painted and vary greatly in appearance.
|A Brewery photo of the 3-B office (right) with Henry Schupp at work (seated at roll-top desk), also gives a glimpse of some of the advertising pieces on the wall. A close-up shows two calendars and some items from the parent, Olympia Brewing Company. Calendars were another effective way to keep the Brewery's name in the public's eye through out the year. Unfortunately, due to the limited usefulness of these items, few have survived. An exception is this 1906 calendar (left) from the author's collection.|
foam scraper made by the Meek Co. - author's collection
reverse on glass, convex sign - courtesy Bryan Anderson collection
"THEY ALL WANT IT -
It seems odd to think of shipping beer all the way to the Yukon, or the Philippine Island of Luzon, but reflecting on the events of the day, it makes sense. With the Alaskan gold rush, and our occupation forces in Manila after the Spanish-American War, there were obviously marketing opportunities for any brewery set up for long distance distribution.
“B.N. Chisholm has the contract for the erection of the B. B. brewery's cold storage plant on the E street wharf. The company purchased the site some weeks ago. The building will be at the point where the railroad spur joins the dock. The dock for the warehouse will be 30x58 feet, and the building 16x26 feet. The frame of the building is already up.”
With a railhead at the door and a terminus to three railways, 3-B sought to modernize its delivery by adopting the concept of refrigerated box cars. The following is from the Daily Reveille of September 10, 1905:
REFRIGERATOR CAR MADE IN BELLINGHAM - The Bellingham Bay Brewery yesterday morning rolled out from its shops a brand new refrigerator car and at noon sent it on its maiden trip with a car load of beer for Cle Elum, where the company owns a large refrigerator.
This 1905 postcard shows two of the refrigerator cars with the numerals six & seven painted on the sides, which would suggest that 3-B owned at least seven of these cars.
The above article might lead one to believe that the 3-B manufactured the cars, when in fact their shops merely painted them and added the 3-B lettering & trade marks.
Whether by rail or ship, 3-B had the ability to sell its beer in the huge San Francisco market, and had done so almost immediately. The beer was shipped to the City and then bottled there. The 1905 SF directory (data gathered in 1904) lists the Bellingham Bay Brewery Bottling Works at 3109 20th. with Joseph B. Cuneo, manager. The 1904 directory does not list the 3-B Bottling Works, but lists Joseph B. Cuneo at the same address, indicating that it was his bottling plant. Clearly, Cuneo had the 3-B account in 1904 since he must have placed his order for the "3-B Beer - Whatcom, Wash." ceramic stoppers prior to October of 1904, when the city's name changed to Bellingham.
The 20th St. plant was apparently destroyed in the April '06 earthquake, as the 1907 Directory lists the 3-B Bottling Works at 60 Dorland St. with D. Meinke, proprietor. This Meinke letterhead (below) is dated two months after the devastating fire & earthquake.
This Ceramic stopper has the monogram of Joseph B. Cuneo, proprietor of the Bellingham Bay Brewery Bottling Works,
From 1906 to 1910 the 3-B Bottling Works was under the mgt. of Diedrich Meinke.
From 1906 to 1910 the 3-B Bottling Works was under the mgt. of Diedrich Meinke.
The 1906 San Francisco earthquake provided unexpected opportunities for the 3-B, as well as other northwest breweries.
The brewery's plans for the $20,000 expansion were completed, doubling its capacity to 100,000 barrels a year.
From the time the Bellingham Bay Brewery commenced production, the business was threatened by the era's crusade against alcoholic beverages. The primary adversaries were the Women's Christian Temperance Union and The Anti-Saloon League, both of which were gaining influence with lawmakers.
The following was taken from a Temperance newspaper published by the Anti-Saloon League:
With over 60 saloons in Bellingham by 1906, there was no shortage of sensational stories reporting anti-social behavior in these establishments. In 1908, Bellingham enacted a "lid," a ban on Sunday sales of alcohol. As this was most working man's only day off, it was quite a blow to shut the saloons on the busiest day for beer & billiards.
In 1909, possibly because of the "lid" and expected further opposition in Bellingham, Schmidt purchased the Port Townsend Brewing Company across Puget Sound on the Olympic Peninsula. Apparently anti-saloon sentiments were not as strong in Port Townsend as in Bellingham.
On January 11, 1910 the Bellingham Herald announced that the 3-B was to be sold, however finalizing the sale was contingent upon the "local option" vote. If the "drys" win, the recently secured lease, by Andrae & Stowe, will be declared off and the property returned to Leopold Schmidt, president, and Henry Schupp, secretary. They "threatened" that if the City votes "dry" it is probable the Brewery will close. They added that they were ".. not inclined to operate their own plant in the City because they have all they can handle with their other breweries."
Two months later, the Bellingham Herald announced that Schmidt had purchased the Byron Hotel for $100,000. Schmidt said that he bought the property outright to avoid the payment of heavy installments on the lease he had taken out in 1907. Leopold Schmidt and Henry Schupp had earlier recognized the Temperance threat to 3-B, and laid plans to diversify business operations in Bellingham. In October 1907, a year prior to the Sunday "lid", Schmidt had taken out a 10 year lease on the Bryon Hotel. Now Schmidt and Schupp announced plans to erect a new hotel on the present site, but they warned "only if the local option does not carry."
Their efforts to effect the election were in vain, and effective January 1, 1911, Bellingham was "dry." And it appears that Schmidt's ultimatums were but empty threats. Andrae and Stowe's lease to purchase the brewery was not cancelled, and the Brewery was not closed. Also, in September of 1913 the Bellingham Herald reported that construction of the new Byron Hotel has resumed "on a grand scale."
Upon completion the Byron was renamed the Leopold Hotel and had its Opening on May 24, 1914. The Bellingham Herald proclaimed:"Leopold Hotel one of the most modern on the Sound." The picture postcard (below) supports that claim.
On 7 January, 1910, Leopold Schmidt announced in the Bellingham Herald that he had leased the brewery and ice plant to Pierre J. Andrae and Edward L. Stowe. The lessees also had an option to buy the plants at any time within a period of five years.
Pierre Andrae was an experienced practical brewer and also well versed in the theoretical and scientific part of his profession, being a graduate of the Wahl-Henius Institute in Chicago. During the previous four years he had been in charge of the brewing operations at the No. Yakima Brewery & Malting Co.
Despite the victory of the drys, and due to loopholes in the "local option" legislation, the Brewery could remain open. Andrae & Stowe then began selling the 3-B's output under the brand "Original Heidelberg" (below left), a brand co-opted from the Columbia Brewing Co. of Tacoma.
In August of 1911, Stowe changed the brand name from "Original Heidelberg" to "Old Heidelberg" (above right) which was even closer to Columbia's brand since Alt means Old in German. He also adjusted the wording on the label. The "Original" label claims the beer to be "Old Type German Beer" but the label was changed to say: "A Purely American Beer". This may have been a response to growing anti-German sentiments resulting from the increase of German imperialism in Europe.
He also changed the monogram at the top of the label from A. S. for Andrae & Stowe, to an E. L. S. monogram for Edward L. Stowe.
The new company continued to use beer trays and etched glasses as promotional items for the Brewery, with "Old Heidelberg" replacing "3-B" or "Bellingham Bay Brewery". Below are some examples (ca.1911). These were all "stock" trays manufactured by American Art Works, of Coshoncton, OH, successor to the Meek Co.
While able to survive under the sanctions of the "local option," the Brewery was about to be dealt a fatal blow.
Prohibition was to take effect on January 1, 1916. Stowe immediately announced plans to sell his remaining stock and pack up the brewery's equipment for San Francisco, however, Stowe's plans were set aside, and his brewing days were over.
Then, on 28 May 1916, the brewery was sold to an Olympia group with plans to utilize 3-B's remaining equipment to make fruit drinks. The plant was to operate as a branch of the Schmidt family's Northwest Fruit Products Company and the three ex-breweries were depicted on the company's letterhead. The Salem plant was already making a Loganberry product called "Loju" and the Olympia plant a sparkling apple champagne called "Applju."
In July, 1918, The Royal Dairy continued to lease the ice plant to the Bellingham Ice Co., but now it was marketed under the Royal Dairy's brand, Crystal Ice.
In July, 1918,
The Royal Dairy continued to lease the ice plant to the Bellingham Ice Co., but now it was marketed under the Royal Dairy's brand, Crystal Ice.
While no attempt was made to re-open the Bellingham Bay Brewery when Prohibition was repealed in April, 1933, there were two attempts to establish a new brewery in Bellingham.
The Sept. 5, 1933 issue of the Seattle Daily Times reported: "Bellingham---Construction of Bellingham's new brewery with a capacity of 15,000 barrels a year, begins today, W. W. Fairburn, president of the Whatcom-Skagit Brewing Company, the builders, announced. Manufacture of Spring-Water Brew will begin about November 1st."
"Bellingham---Construction of Bellingham's new brewery with a capacity of 15,000 barrels a year, begins today, W. W. Fairburn, president of the Whatcom-Skagit Brewing Company, the builders, announced. Manufacture of Spring-Water Brew will begin about November 1st."
Property was leased from the Port of Bellingham and a structure was built for the brewery. However, due to under capitalization the brewery never reached production and the enterprise was canceled in 1934.
The next attempt to open a brewery came two years later. The February, 1936 issue of Western Brewer reported that Ed Stowe has organized a company to operate a brewery on a site acquired in the Eldridge Industrial District.
The Eldridge Industrial site chosen by Stowe, was located at 2925 Roeder Ave., the same property developed for the Whatcom-Skagit Brewing Co. As late as 1949, the Port of Bellingham still referred to it as the "brewery building."
3-B COLLECTIBLES - For Sale
Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro
While the Bellingham Bay Brewery is long gone, Bellingham still has a brewery to be proud of. The Boundary Bay Brewery on Railroad Ave. is producing award wining beers.
On June 1, 2007 the North American Beer Awards were held in Idaho Falls, ID. Boundary Bay brought home a gold medal for their "ESB," a silver for their "Dunkles Bock," and a silver for their "10th Anniversary Ale."
In the '08 NABA, Boundary took home a silver for their "Cabin Fever." And inDec. '09, Boundary Bay was awarded Best Brewery in Washington State by the Readers Choice Awards in the Northwest Brewing News publication.
And, the Bistro and serves excellent food as well! If you come to Bellingham - and you enjoy good food, expertly crafted beers, and live music - Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro is not to be missed.
For any comments, additions, or corrections - or for 3-B items you wish to sell -
Brewery Gems™ ~ since 1999