December 28, 2018

McKeesport Historical Note

McKeesport was created by court order from a part of Versailles Twp. on September 3, 1842. The Standard History of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania by Weston Arthur Goodspeed notes that a brewery existed in McKeesport in 1794, but does not identify a name. See McKee’s Brewery. Below.

The greater part of the land now included within the present city limits of McKeesport was originally owned by six men: David McKee (father), Thomas McKee (son), Robert McKee (son), Peter Keyser, Hugh Goben and Samuel Sinclair. Note that McKeesport was in Westmoreland County until 1788.

Brewery Locations

Ernst Frederick Reichenbach Brewery
(Revised December 2018 per new information)
South Diamond and Blackberry Streets (at Paw-Paw Street)
Owner: Ernst Reichenbach (b. Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany, 1845 – d. January 21, 1904 McKeesport)
At the age of twelve (1857), in Allegheny County, he was apprenticed to learn the trade of brewing at the John H. Reichenbach brewery in Pittsburgh’s South Side. Other publications said his uncle. Michael Reichenbach employed him. He owned his brewery in McKeesport about 1874-1884. The brewery became the Diamond Hotel. The property was shown on the Hopkins map of McKeesport, 1900.

The Pittsburgh Press on January 21, 1904 reported on the death of Ernst Reichenbach. The article said the Michael Reichenbach operated a small brewery on the South Side.

McKee’s Brewery
McKeesport’s first brewery
David McKee had a small brewery, which was located near the (present day) corner of Locust Street and Spring Street. His stillhouse was located near the southwesterly corner of Shaw Avenue and Huey Street. The family cabin was located near the northeasterly corner of Second Avenue and Water Street.

David filled an application on April 3, 1769 in the Proprietor’s Land Office, Philadelphia for 306 acres of land at the mouth of the Monongahela and Youghiogheny Rivers. His sons also filed for adjacent lands.

McKeesport Brewing (Pittsburgh Brewing Co.)
4th Avenue at Ryan Alley
1909 Sanborn Map. Sheet 6 & 7 shows the brewery along 4
th Avenue (B & O RR) at Ryan Alley (west side) with the bottling house on the east side.
Carl G. Vollmer (b. 1889) was superintendant and brewmaster in 1918. The brews were Lager and Beer. The brewery was listed in the
Brewers Hand Book for 1918. Its 1896 address was given as Fifth Street and Strawberry Alley.

People’s Brewery
Unknown location
Believed to have succeeded the Eagle Brewery of Duquesne.
Their charter as filed with the Pennsylvania Secretary of State has the corporation enrolled on December 30, 1903. See, The Consolidation, below.

November 26, 2013 update:
American Brewers Review, Volume 17, 1903 reported that Peoples was to build a new plant at the foot of Fifth Avenue, “having bought the ground for that purpose”.

Reed Brewery
Roads Brewery
Unknown location and it is an assumption that it is actually in McKeesport. According to the description in a land record book, the brewery was to have been in Versailles Township. It was known to be in operation on or prior to 1804. After Reed died the brewery became the Roads Brewery in 1814.

According to
The First Hundred Years of McKeesport: An Historical and Statistical Description of the City of from its Inception Until its Centennial in 1884, 1894, the brewery was a three-story stone building and was falling down by the1830’s. It was located on Jenny Lind Street near Tenth Street. The book says it was “Rhodes’ or Reed’s brewery…”

History of Allegheny County gives a brief biography of David Rhodes (b. 1813 in Lincoln Township) of McKeesport. His parental grandfather, Frederick, was a McKeesport brewer.

The 1876 Hopkins Atlas Plate 23 of Lincoln Township shows the S. O. Rhodes residence at Rhodes Landing west of Lovedale.

Tube City Brewing Co.
225 12th Street, or 1200 Walnut Street
Operating dates: 1903 to 1955
The 1918 brewmaster was Jacob Sutter. Tube City made Ale, Porter, Lager and Beer. The 1948 brewmaster was George A. Hartung. Incorporated on July 23, 1903. See The Consolidation, below.

Michael Gross (b. August 1849) was the brewery’s first president as noted in
Memoirs of Allegheny County, Volume II (1904). It was also noted that the brewery was being completed.

The Consolidation

American Brewers’ Review, Volume 19, 1905 reported that the People’s Ice & Cold Storage Company of McKeesport had consolidated with Tube City Brewing Co., the People’s Brewing Co., and the People’s Electric & Power Company under the name of People’s Ice & Cold Storage Company; 132 5th Avenue. The Industrial Directory of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Volume 1, 1914 had the name The People’s Ice, Light & Storage Co. W. S. Altmeyer was manager and it should be noted that the Altmeyer Theater was at this location before if burnt down.

On October 3, 1901The
Pittsburgh Press reported a sewer gas explosion in the plant’s basement at Fifth & Market.

American Brewers Review, Volume 10, Issue 1, 1897
McKeesport Brewing Company plans on building a brewery on the site of the Altmeyer Theater. Local residents were opposed to this and were going to oppose the license.

Peter Straub

Peter Straub, founder of the Straub Brewery in St. Marys, Pa. worked in McKeesport for a short time but it is not known at which brewery.