Sun. Mar 3rd, 2024
Imperial Brewing, a familiar sight along I-35, razed after renovation hopes dashed


Brick-by-brick, a slice of Kansas City’s history is being demolished as the Imperial Brewing Company’s iconic structure, sandwiched between Interstate 35 and Southwest Boulevard, south of downtown Kansas City is being razed.

Using heavy equipment, Spirtas Worldwide, a demolition firm based in St. Louis, is knocking down the historic brick building.

Standing six-stories tall, the 121-year-old brewhouse was an example of the Victorian Romanesque Revival style. It was built in 1901 by architect and contractor Ludwig D. Breitag, a German immigrant. The new Imperial Brewing Co. opened to great fanfare and crowds on May 15, 1902. The brewhouse was the last pre-Prohibition brewery built in Kansas City.

A brewery advertisement from 1902 reads, “The plant of the Imperial Brewing Co., is a marvel of human ingenuity, it stands open for inspection to the people of Kansas City.”

The Kansas City Manufacturer announced the opening of the brewing plant of the Imperial Brewing Company in their publication in February 1902.The Kansas City Manufacturer announced the opening of the brewing plant of the Imperial Brewing Company in their publication in February 1902.

The Kansas City Manufacturer announced the opening of the brewing plant of the Imperial Brewing Company in their publication in February 1902.

Old newspaper clippings say thousands of people showed up for the grand opening, clogging the area around the brewery with horses and buggies. Another 1902 advertisement proclaimed “This modern and perfect plant has been erected at a cost of $500,000 and the beer is now ready for the market.”

At the height of production, the brewery was said to be producing 50,000 barrels of beer a year, including its flagship lagers, Mayflower and Imperial Seal. In 1905, the Imperial Brewing Co. was bought and renamed Kansas City Breweries Company.

Demolition of the 121-year-old historic, former Imperial Brewing Co. building, 2528 Southwest Blvd., was ongoing Thursday in Kansas City. The brewery was the last pre-Prohibition brewery built in Kansas City.Demolition of the 121-year-old historic, former Imperial Brewing Co. building, 2528 Southwest Blvd., was ongoing Thursday in Kansas City. The brewery was the last pre-Prohibition brewery built in Kansas City.

Demolition of the 121-year-old historic, former Imperial Brewing Co. building, 2528 Southwest Blvd., was ongoing Thursday in Kansas City. The brewery was the last pre-Prohibition brewery built in Kansas City.

Prohibition came to Missouri and beer brewing and sales became illegal. In 1919, Seaboard Milling Co. acquired Imperial Brewing’s “modern and perfect plant” and converted it to a flour mill. Known as Boulevard Mill, it cranked out flour and operated there until 1985.

Vandalism, squatters and time took a toll on the building which sat vacant for nearly 30 years. In 2007, the facility was purchased by Dean Realty Co. There was talk of redevelopment while salvage operations and renovations were in the works. On Feb. 11, 2011, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The Imperial Brewing Co. building had been decaying for decades but it was a fire in the building in 2012 that may have sealed its fate.The Imperial Brewing Co. building had been decaying for decades but it was a fire in the building in 2012 that may have sealed its fate.

The Imperial Brewing Co. building had been decaying for decades but it was a fire in the building in 2012 that may have sealed its fate.

Progress was short-lived and plans were derailed as a fast-moving, three-alarm fire tore through the brewery on Dec. 27, 2012, causing extensive damage.

Now, nearly 11 years after that devastating fire, the city issued a demolition permit and in mid-November a joint venture of Copaken Brooks and Dean Realty Co., began the process of having the building demolished.

A yellow banner reading Imperialbrew.com fluttered in the wind from the top of the former brewhouse Thursday, as an equipment operator maneuvering a long-reach excavator slowly and methodically knocked bricks to the ground from the six-story building that has stood tall for the past 12 decades.



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