Storues about the Penn Brewery building burning down in 1883 are wrong.
In 1883 The Eberhardt and Ober Brewing Company bought the John Straub Brewing Company. Both breweries were located on Pittsburgh’s North Side in the Deutschtown neighborhood. That same year Eberhardt & Ober (E & O) rebuilt the stock house on Vinial Street. That building is known today as the Penn Brewery. The Straub Brewery on nearby South Canal Street was reconfigured to become a grain elevator. It has been written numerous times that the stock house was destroyed by fire in 1883 and rebuilt as the building we know today. This is incorrect. Somehow the date of the fire was misread by a writer and what he wrote was copied time and time again. To be clear, the stock house, currently the Penn Brewery, was never on fire.
William Eberhardt and Peter Ober were related by marriage as Peter married William’s sister Sarah in 1871. The Conrad Eberhardt Brewery was adjacent to the George Ober Brewery and the two families obviously engaged with each other. Things happen. The two breweries were however independent of one another.
William was the son on Conrad Eberhardt, who foundered the Eagle Brewery in 1852. William took control in 1870 when his father retired from the business. Peter was the son of George Ober who took control of the Amber Brewery sometie after 1860. George had three sons, Frank, Charles and Peter. Peter, for some reason did not stay with his family’s brewery but joined William in 1870. When the William Ober Brewing Company bought Straub in 1883 Peter had become a partner and the company became the Eberhardt & Ober Brewing Company.
The year when E & O bought Straub the company enlarged operations as the rebuilding of the stock house and grain elevator illustrates. The grain elevator was located on South Cannel Street between Chestnut Street and X Street. The rail line that we see today running through the North Side next to the Heinz plant was at the time a branch of the Pennsylvania Cannel. The cannel played a small part in Pittsburgh’s brewing history as John Straub (not related to Peter from St. Marys) had yeast shipped from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh in1848 on the cannel. That yeast enabled Straub to make Pittsburgh’s first lager beer.
Adjacent to Straub’s old brewery was the Godfrey & Clark Paper Company and the Heinz Pickle factory. On Aprl4, 1893, a fire broke out in the paper company at 2:30 in the afternoon. This made national news and the reports from several newspapers are exhibited below:
April 5, 1893
The Newark Advocate from Newark, Ohio · Page 1
THE DAILY ADVOCATE. YOLUME XXXIT.. NEWARK, OHIO, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 5 1893 DESTRUCTIVE FIRE. Valuable Property Destroyed in Allegheny City. LOSS NEARLY HALF A MILLION.
Eberhardt & Ober, the Godfrey Clark Paper Company and the H. J. Heinz Pickle Company, Besides a Number of Small Property Owners, Burned Out.
Allegheny City was visited by fire yesterday evening, which destroyed about $400,000 worth of property. The principal sufferers were: Eberhardt Ober, the Godfrey Clark Paper company and the H. J. Heinz Pickle company, besides a number of small property owners. The fire is supposed to have been caused by a spark from their own smokestack flying into an open window of the sorting room of Godfrey Clark's warehouse. It spread rapidly, enveloping that building in flames and then spreading to the malthonse, warehouse and elevator of Eberhardt & Ober Brewing Company. The Allegheny department, after a futile attempt to stay the course of-the fire, summoned aid from Pittsburg. The firemen fought hard, but did not succeed in getting control of the fire until a late hour last night. The fire burned over the best part of two blocks, also destroying the lumber yard and planning will of Kopp Voeghtly, the old Hope cotton mill building, occupied by the H. J. Heinz Pickle company as a warehouse, and a number of dwellings, A number of minor accidents occurred. The losses as near as can be obtained are: Eberhardt & Ober, $75,000' on building, insured for $44.000; stock $125,000, insured for $50,000; Godfrey Clark, $25.000 on building, insured for $20,000; $35,000 on stock, insured for $31,000: E. M. Ferguson, owner of the Hope cotton mill building, $22,000; insurance not known; H, J.- Heinz Pickle company, on stock, $20.000, partially insured; four houses owned by Thomas Loughery, $10,000, small insurance: Kopp Voeghtly, lumber yard and planning mill, $30,000, insurance not known; a number of dwelling houses, stc., increasing the loss to $400,000. Eberhardt & Ober were unable last night to furnish a list of the companies for which they were insured. Godfrey Clark are insured in 30 different companies, in sums ranging from $500 to $3,000, the principal companies being the Mutual of New York for $5,500 and the Columbia of Louisville for $3,000. This is the fourth time they have burned out in 15 years, their losses amounting to $410,000. with a total insurance only of $110,000. Both companies will rebuild at once.
April 5, 1893
Lincoln Daily News from Lincoln, Nebraska · Page 2
Pittsburgh, April 5. At 2 o'clock Tuesday afternoon fire broke out on the second floor of the ' paper warehouse; of Godfrey & Clark on South Canal street. Allegheny, and a general alarm was sent in, and within an hour the lavc frame building, which was filled with a stock of paper, was totally destroyed. At 3:4o o'clock the flames had communicated to the 5-story malt house of Eberhardt & Ober's brewery. The strong-wind fanned the flames into intense hot waves, which fairly melted that building and contents to the ground. The wind drove the flames to the midst of a row of brick and frame dwellings on South Canal street. Aid From Pitttslurg Chief 31 u ?hy telephoned to the Pittsburg fire department for aid, which sent. Before the two companies in Pittsburg had arrived, the dwellings were in flames and their total destruction was only a question of time. 3:43 the large lumber yard and planning mill of Klopp & Voegtly, on Cannel street, was on fire, and the Heinz Picke1 works were in danger. Five hours later, the Hope Cotton mill, on Ma., street, became ignited and was soon destroyed. Three dwellings in the rear of the cotton mill also caught about that time and were also destroyed. At o'clock it was thought the fire was under control. Iy is reported that a child was burned to death and that several residents of the South Cannel street dwellings were seriously injured. Total losses at this writing cannot be estimated. Firemen injured. Robert Badger and John Bohneyo, the firemen injured by falling walls, regained consciousness shortly after their arrival at the Allegheny general hospital, and will recover. The report that a child had been burned to death, also that a number of people had been seriously injured, is not correct. Several, however, were slightly burned. A correct statement of losses and insurance is as follows: The Losses. Eberhardt & Ober, grain elevator slightly burned. A correct statement of losses and insurance is as follows: Eberhardt & Ober, grain elevator and malt house with contents, worth $175,000 insured for $94,0O0; Godfrey & Clarke, paper warehouse and contents, $65,000, insured for $30,000: Samuel Martin, three residences worth $-5,001', insured for $10 000. The lumberyard and planning mill owned by Klopp & Voegtly, as well as the Hope cotton mill, in which H. J. Heinze had stored a large quantity of stock, was damaged to a considerable extent but not beyond repair, ad was the other property enumerated above. The high wind carried burning embers to an almost incredible distance and many blocks away people were kept busy extinguishing small fires, which caught on the roofs of their residences.