unsealing the mysterious crypt

Sunshine and blue skies, a red-letter day last week!

So I grab the camera {<–not used to those words!}, lace up the walking shoes and hit the road.

I venture into the heart and starting point of original Tacoma where the pulse of history still beats.

Or doesn't.

A fascinating juxtaposition of history and modern, Tacoma was founded as a railroad and port town, once vibrant and promising. Rusted rails remind.

In the industrial sector, I arrive at a building that intrigues and invites exploration.

At the rear:
There are few windows and no signs and two thick metal doors locked tight.

And plenty of bad pipe:

And an elephant:

I hunt for clues to the structure's identity. I spot a bottlecap beneath the back door. I ease it forward with my finger. A modern brew. I slide it back.

To the front:

Not a single window, only a large rolling door in disrepair.

Duct tape can’t help what ails the door. I like the alien eyes.

And the front door:

I dare to lift the mail slot and peer in, bracing for some hideous creature to erupt. It doesn't – whew! Pitch black inside.

To the side:

Only one tiny window on one giant wall! What the heck was its purpose?!

I like when life sets up residence in disused structures.

I should say so!

I want to know what this building was!! I vant to unseal the crypt!

The only clue is a washed-out painting:


Heidelberg the neck reads:

Online digging later unearths the identity and stories.

Halfway down the block once stood the Columbia Brewery. It was started in 1900 by this bearded fellow, Emil Kliese, a German immigrant brewmaster who couldn’t secure a job, and the mustached seated man, William Kiltz, sales manager.

The Columbia brewery changed hands and became the Alt Heidelberg, which continued introducing new brews and wetting the whistles of fans all around.

The patriotic Student Prince was plastered on billboards and print media.

This concrete freize was reportedly removed and preserved years later.

Business boomed, bringing still more expansion in 1954, including a cellar — the windowless building! {mystery solved!}

The Heidelberg emerged as the largest brewery north of California and west of Milwaukee. Right here in Tacoma!  {Take that, snooty Seattle!}

Then in 1979, 79 years after a German immigrant placed a dot on a map that blossomed into an exclamation point, the brewery was escorted to its grave.

It was purchased by Heileman Brewing Co. of Wisconsin. Heileman also owned Rainier Brewing Co. in nearby Seattle. The acquisitions ran afoul of antitrust laws. Heileman was forced to close one of the plants. It chose Tacoma's.

The rest is sad history. Plans on three occasions to transform it into a hotel have never materialized.

So the Heidelberg, nee Columbia, brewery sits as it has for 20 years, vacant and decaying, a fairly windowless crypt with a faded painting the only clue to its former glory and identity.

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