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Highland Spring Brewery

148-168 Terrace Street

Built: 1892-1912

Style: Late Victorian Industrial/ Georgian Revival

by Angelica Coleman

The Highland Spring Brewery is located at the southwestern slope of Mission Hill, now isolated by a large parking lot owned by New England Baptist Hospital. The former refrigeration plant of the brewery is located on the hospitals property.

HISTORY

In 1867, Henry A. Reuter and John R. Alley, brewers from Germany and Ireland, opened the Highland Spring Brewery. By 1872 it was the largest brewery in the United States that produced only ale and porter. In 1876, Reuter and Alley's ale won a coveted gold medal at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition.

Two buildings were constructed in addition to the brewery itself: the late Victorian building, built in 1892, located at 158-164 Terrace Street, that housed the firm's bottling plant and in 1912 the massive Georgian Revival addition, at 31 New Heath Street, was used as the storehouse for the casks and tanks of ale and porter. In December 1895, a refrigeration building was added to house the brewery’s ice making machinery located at 55 New Heath Street. The Highland Spring Brewery is known to be one of the first breweries to add refrigeration machinery to its plant.

In 1885, Reuter and Alley split, and Alley went off to form Eblana Brewery, also on Heath Street. The Highland Springs Brewery closed in 1919 due to prohibition, and in 1925, the Oliver Ditson Co., Boston's largest publisher of sheet music, purchased the Georgian Revival addition at 31 New Heath Street and used the building for printing and storage purposes.

After prohibition, the bottling facility changed owners several times starting with the Croft company, making Croft Cream ale and Croft Pilgrim Ale, then to Narragansett in 1953 who brewed Croft brands, and then finally it was operated as the Rosoff Pickle factory in 1955 until it was bought by Hebrew National Co. and moved to New York.

In 2005, Briggs Capital Real Estate bought the building in hopes of turning it into a housing complex replete with condo lofts. In 2009, the entire block, including the bottling and storage facility, was sold by Highland Springs LLC to Pickle-Ditson Phase II Limited Partnership c/o Winn Companies for $100,00.


Architecture

The bottling facility of the Highland spring Brewery at 158-164 Terrace Street is a rectangular building with 3-story brick pilasters and stone caps. The building displays broad centrally placed gables revealing OD (Oliver Ditson) Co. initials. The upper three floors used stone splayed windows and attached at the rear is a 4-story late Victorian industrial building (storage facility) with the first floor enhanced with three story plain brick pilasters linking floors 2-4.

The refrigeration facility of the Highland Spring Brewery is a square, small-scale, 3 X 2 bay Queen Anne industrial building set broad side parallel to street at 55 New Heath Street. It displays terracotta and brickwork and an arched central entry on New Health with arched windows and rough-faced granite sills. The building has an overhanging roofline low with a ventilator. Yellow brick banding patterns the cornices and the right side exhibits an arched drastic door, which is now bricked up, and an arched window at right.


CURRENT USE

The two buildings are not currently being used and have been vacant since the 1980s. Both buildings have suffered deferred maintenance, lack of utilities, vandalism, and decay. In 2009, the entire block, including the bottling and storage facility, was sold by Highland Springs LLC to Pickle-Ditson Phase II Limited Partnership c/o Winn Companies for $100,000. The Winn Company has obtained $2.7 million in federal and state tax credits and $1.5 million in low-interest loans in order to restore the building using "green" building technology.


Sources

Boston Landmarks Commission

Deed Search by Sara Corker, for Discover Roxbury

Historical Boston Incorporated- Property Records

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