Burned brewery can be redeveloped

A historic Midtown brewery damaged by a fire last month is structurally sound and can be redeveloped, its owners said Tuesday.

The Imperial Brewery, 2825 Southwest Blvd., has national historic designation and is one of only two pre-prohibition brew houses left in the city.

“We believe it is salvageable,” said John Kornhaus, a vice president with Dean Realty.

The brewery closed in 1919, was converted into a flour mill and has been vacant since the mid 1980s.

The building is a link to Kansas City’s brewing industry in the “glory days,” and reflects industrial changes in the beer and flour industries toward much larger operations, according to its historic designation registration.

It opened in 1902 but floundered and was sold in 1905 to a merger of the Heim and Rochester breweries called the Kansas City Breweries Company. After the purchase, the breweries company out produced all the city’s other breweries combined.

The only other surviving brewery from the period is the Heim brewery in the east bottoms by Heim Park.

The three Heim brothers of beer fame also brightened Midtown. In 1907, more than 53,000 people attended the opening of their second Electric Park” at 46th Street and the Paseo, according to a Kansas City Public Library webpage.

Among features of what was called the Coney Island of Kansas City: young women dancing in lights on a platform in a lake, an alligator farm, swimming pool, roller coaster and bandstand. It survived until fires in 1925 and 1934 closed it.

The Heims in 1899 had opened the first electric park by their east bottoms to attract crowds to drink their beer. They even built a short streetcar line to get the visitors there.

As the population moved south, they closed the first park and opened the new Midtown one that featured up to 100,000 lights.

As for the old Imperial Brewing Company, it opened again in 1933 down the street on Southwest Boulevard, the historic designation report states. It was sold in 1938 to Griesedieck/Falstaff, which remained one of the top five breweries nationwide until the 1970s.

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