The lagering cellars of the Schaller Brothers’ Main Street Brewery were recently unearthed during excavation for parking lot retention tanks. The Digging Cincinnati History blog has an extensive history of the brewery here. The parking lot will serve the Rothenberg School that is undergoing renovation.
Excavation crews did not stop when they first breached the ceiling of the lagering cellars. In one day’s work, they uncovered at least two barrel vaulted rooms. It is unclear how many others exist or if the destruction of these historic features will be halted, even if only temporarily. The walls, doorways, and perhaps ceilings of other rooms remain intact.
Andrea Fieler of Urban Properties OTR posted photos and video of the underground brewery tunnels:
Cincinnati’s fantastic brewery architecture, both above and below ground, is a fantastic asset that brings thousands of tourists to Over-the-Rhine Brewery District every year. The preservation of Cincinnati’s remaining breweries should be a high priority.
It would be a shame to see the further destruction of these historic features. In many European cities, Roman ruins are preserved and incorporated into modern day construction. The Roman-Germanic Museum in Cologne was built on top of a Roman villa which is preserved and made visible to visitors by a plexiglass floor.
In the case of the Schaller Brothers’ Main Street Brewery tunnels, the City of Cincinnati’s Urban Conservator ought to recommend an immediate halt to the excavation of the historic site. It is important to realize the permanence of one reckless backhoe. The site should be documented and alternative locations for the site of the parking lot should be explored. At the very least, what remains should be preserved and should be protected even if the parking lot is built on this site.
The incessant and haphazard obliteration of Cincinnati’s historic architecture reveals a shocking and detestable lack of foresight.