Discover Historic Cumberland this Preservation Month: Historic Brewing in Cumberland

05/16/2016
By Preservation Maryland

The City of Cumberland and the Cumberland Economic Development Corporation, an instrumentality of City government, plan to demolish portions of the historic Rolling Mill neighborhood to build incompatible and economically unsustainable low-density sprawl. Proponents of demolition have suggested that the buildings are not historic; so in an effort to better understand what may be lost, we’ll be sharing short stories about many of these threatened properties.

Cumberland has been historically important as a gateway city to the west; it was an outpost of George Washington’s during the French and Indian War, supported westward migration during and after the American Revolution, and was an industrial center which grew from its easy access to roadways, the railroad, and the C&O Canal connecting Cumberland to Washington, DC. The beer brewing industry appeared in Cumberland as early as 1852.

One the first breweries in Cumberland was Bartle’s Brewery, a large scale production that produced 500 barrels each year, but the majority of brewing in Cumberland would be defined today as a craft beer industry. Cumberland boasted 13 local breweries by 1888.  The big names in Cumberland brewing emerged toward the turn of the century, with the Cumberland Brewing Co. in 1890 and the Queen City Brewing Co. in 1901.  These brewers marketed their beer as high quality due to their use of fresh mountain water. And thus, Cumberland’s beer industry evolved from productions that relied on horse-drawn wagons to transport cases of bottled beer into thriving operations.  At the peak of productions, after World War II, brewers employed over 300 people in Cumberland.  However, the industry was unable to compete with national bottling companies and Queen City Brewery was the last to close in 1974.

MALAMPHY’S SALOON AND MALAMPHY BOTTLING WORKS

 

Malamphy Saloon and Bottling Works, Cumberland, MD. Photo by Christopher M. Stevens.

Malamphy Saloon and Bottling Works, Cumberland, MD. Photo by Christopher M. Stevens.

The historic Malamphy’s Saloon and Malamphy Bottling Works buildings sit at the intersection of Park and Williams Streets, opposite the former Queen City Park. The two-story brick structure with shingled gable on Park Street dates from at least 1887. Simplified brackets and an elliptical gable window still accent the five bays wide and five bays deep building. The northern half of the building, 506 Park, was the residence of Michael J. Malamphy (1862-1934) and his wife Wilhelmina. The southern half of the structure, 508 Park, housed the saloon and still retains its original first floor commercial bracketed cornice above the saloon door. Malamphy also owned the buildings immediately behind his Park Street residence and saloon at 216-222 Williams Street. Here he operated the Malamphy Bottling Works beginning around 1890. One of the buildings contained an ice house and another contained the electric bottling and capping equipment.

During the 1920s, the upper floors of the saloon also served as a boarding house. This building along with the Kingsley Methodist Church around the corner on Williams Street are two of the earliest structures constructed in this portion of the Rolling Mill neighborhood and are reminders of the Cumberland’s grand railroad era of the late-19th and early-20th centuries.

In 1922, there were five bottlers of soft drinks in Cumberland, including L. T. Carpenter and Son, the Coca-Cola Bottling Company, the Malamphy Bottling Works, the Whistle Bottling Company and Ver-Vac Bottling Company. Malamphy ran the bottling works until his death in 1934. Around 1950, the buildings 216-222 Williams Street were replaced with a more modern bottling works factory, built of brick, concrete and steel beams. A bottling works company continued to operate from this location until the 1970s.

Today the bottling works building houses Miller’s Ironhouse Gym. Meanwhile, Malamphy Bottling Works bottles may be found for sale in local antique shops. While only one micro-brewery has returned to Cumberland, the craft beer industry is flourishing throughout Maryland and is documented here by Visit Maryland.

THE ENTIRE ROLLING MILL NEIGHBORHOOD IS THREATENED

The City of Cumberland and the Cumberland Economic Development Corporation, an instrumentality of City government, plan to demolish portions of the historic Rolling Mill neighborhood to build incompatible and economically unsustainable low-density sprawl. Proponents of demolition have suggested that the buildings are not historic; so in an effort to better understand what may be lost, we’ll be sharing short stories about many of these threatened properties.

Unfortunately, the demolition plans for this neighborhood appear to extend to this historic saloon and bottling works as well. The plans call for new construction and surface parking in its place.

 

This blog post merges two Preservation Maryland blog series Discover Historic Cumberland and Maryland Preservation Month. Our Preservation Month posts were written and prepared by Rachel Rettaliata, one of Preservation Maryland’s Waxter Interns. Rachel’s work with us focuses on communications and advocacy. She is a Fulbright Scholar, and will be attending the historic preservation program at the University of Maryland this fall. Learn more about Rachel and our intern program here: presmd.org/waxter

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