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
Historical Commission Hardship Meeting Puts Sloan Mansion One Step Closer To Demolition

Historical Commission Hardship Meeting Puts Sloan Mansion One Step Closer To Demolition

December 19, 2014  |  Buzz

The days might be numbered for the Samuel Sloan-designed John P. Levy House at 40th and Pine. Today the Historical Commission's Hardship Committee approved a recommendation that could clear the way for the Italliante mansion's demolition > more

Travels Through The Ghost City

Travels Through The Ghost City

December 19, 2014  |  Last Light

The wrecking ball and the crane seem to be the symbols of the year as Philadelphia's built landscape changes--in some places at a furious pace. Architect Andrew Evans has been paying attention--his time-lapse images capture the process as the new replaces the old > more

Baking Yuletide Cheer At Potito's

Baking Yuletide Cheer At Potito’s

December 19, 2014  |  Last Light

There is nothing like lining up to buy baked goods in South Philly during the holidays. Theresa Stigale has this photo essay about Potito's, a classic, family-owned neighborhood bakery at 16th and Ritner > more

Temple Police Treading An Expanded Beat These Days

Temple Police Treading An Expanded Beat These Days

December 18, 2014  |  Morning Blend

North Philly university moves to protect its off-campus students from violent crime, DVRPC approves I-95 capping study, Nightingale Properties to rebrand Seven Penn Center, and a “Little Farm” expands in South Kensington > more

With Churches Fast Disappearing In Fishtown, A Chance To See What's At Stake

With Churches Fast Disappearing In Fishtown, A Chance To See What’s At Stake

December 18, 2014  |  News

What to do with all the churches? With the imminent loss of another Fishtown church, New Kensington Community Development Corporation wants you to see what's at stake--join them for a post-holiday tour. Michael Bixler reports > more

Transforming The Schuylkill

Transforming The Schuylkill

December 17, 2014  |  Morning Blend

A re-bridging of sorts for the Central Schuylkill, good news for South Philly ship, Liberty Square work begins, and the lax enforcement of condos’ Christmas tree ban > more