Partial Demolition Approved At Gretz Brewery

 

Photo: Jacob Hellman

Composite photo: Jacob Hellman

The City’s Department of Licenses & Inspections has approved a permit for partial demolition of one of the oldest buildings of the former Rieger and Gretz Brewery in South Kensington.

The permit was issued to address the building at the corner of Germantown Avenue and Oxford Street whose facade and mansard roof are collapsing. The building, originally in use as a tavern, shares its façade with a bottling house that was later constructed next to it on Oxford. Several other locations of the brewery have been flagged for bulging walls and missing bricks, including the taller buildings on Lawrence Street that were originally built as beer cellars.

Gretz building with collapsed mansard roof

Gretz building with collapsed mansard roof | Photo: Christopher Mote

Real estate developer Tony Rufo, who owns the Gretz property, agreed to address the outstanding violations before the L&I Review Board last month. According to the permit, Rufo is to “demolish and remove” the existing second and third floor façade at Germantown and Oxford “as necessary to make safe.” L&I will then reassess the property, giving Rufo 45 days to present a development plan or potentially face fines for outstanding violations.

Begun in 1885, Gretz is one of Philadelphia’s oldest remaining brewery complexes and is on the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia’s 2012 list of endangered properties.

About the author

Christopher Mote covers stories of preservation, planning, zoning and development. He lives in South Philadelphia and has a special fondness for brownstone churches and mansard roofs.

Send him a message at: motecw[at]hotmail[dot]com



4 Comments


  1. A couple of years ago I was told someone intervened and convinced L & I that the building was sound (and they agreed). However, with each passing year, a building with no roof, etc. deteriorates. When I heard the owner was a developer, I was hopeful that something might be done with the old brewery. In fact, there was an adjunct professor at Temple who had students do a project on how to renovate and preserve the brewery/property. At this stage, it’s hard for me to hole out much hope, either for the Gretz or Ortlieb brewery buildings. As many brewery preservation “success stories” that we have in Pennslyvania, there are so many more sites that have been or will be torn down (Schmidt’s)to make way for new construction. In Philadelphia the Bergdoll and Class and Nachod breweries are shining examples of preservation, having been turned into housing. The Ortlieb’s bottling house has recently been purchased by a major architectural firm and is undergoing renovation. The Weisbrod & Hess brewery is now home to Philadelphia Brewing Co. and the Finkenauer brewery stables are in the process of being made ready to house St. Benjamin Brewing Co. See my website for pics and videos from my Philadlephia Brewery Tour, as well as a comprehensive list of standing brewery buildings throughout the nation (and beyond).

    http://pabreweryhistorians.tripod.com

  2. More history and beautiful architecture being destroyed in this city. What a disgrace.

  3. Bulging walls, total demolition needed of the entire building. Salvage useful artifacts for incorporation in future brick buildings. To make the developer keep the building is much like making a sick dog walk. To preserve older buildings, a relevant use must be found otherwise it is demo by neglect.

    • James, are you suggesting that there could not be found a “relevant use” for a brick building with an essentially open floor plan? Almost anything could be put in there.

Recent Posts
Summer Break

Summer Break

June 29, 2015  |  News

The Hidden City Daily team is taking a short summer vacation. We'll be back next Monday, July 6th. Have a great Independence Day! > more

Taking Inventory With The Philadelphia Church Project

Taking Inventory With The Philadelphia Church Project

June 26, 2015  |  Vantage

The fabric of Philadelphia's sacred architecture is slowly disintegrating as religious neighborhood landmarks give way to new construction. The Philadelphia Church Project, a growing online record of the city's historic sancturaries, has been steadily amassing a church database for almost 8 years. Hidden City co-editor Michael Bixler checked in with the founder of the website to discuss church closings and the project in detail > more

More Starchitecture Coming To The Navy Yard

More Starchitecture Coming To The Navy Yard

June 26, 2015  |  Morning Blend

A “landmark event” set for Tuesday, Temple (likely) makes room for new stadium, ROYGBIV in the Gayborhood, and contemplating the future of a South Philly community center > more

When Pastorius Monument Unsettled Germantown

When Pastorius Monument Unsettled Germantown

June 25, 2015  |  Morning Blend

Contemplating monumental art in Germantown, a look at Indego's great two-month numbers, another pilot program to get more school funding, and a textile warehouse conversion in Queen Village > more

Reactivating Kensington’s Megalots

Reactivating Kensington’s Megalots

June 24, 2015  |  Morning Blend

The shifting winds of development in Kensington, a new RCO for East Falls, and soliciting feedback on bike lane protectors on Walnut Street Bridge > more

Too New For Old City?

Too New For Old City?

June 23, 2015  |  Morning Blend

Historical Commission to consider PMC proposal, Brown introduces bill to facilitate green roofs, and some more duplexes almost ready near TempleU > more