Architecture Spotlight: Jackson Brewery

There have been over 79 breweries in San Francisco’s history, most of them either lost to the 1906 earthquake or in the two years following the 1919 passage of the 21st amendment. These lost brew houses included the North Star Brewery at Filbert and Sansome, the Globe Brewing Company  at Sansome and Greenwich and the Jackson Brewing Company. Yet despite the fact that the Jackson Brewing Company  did not survive Prohibition, its building still stands.

1906 Damaged Jackson Brewing Company (Photo credit: San Francisco Public Library)

The Jackson Brewing Company was owned by the William A. Fredericks family from 1867 to 1920. The first brewery was on First Street between Howard and Folsom; they purchased the property at Folsom and 11th in 1905. Early construction was destroyed by the earthquake and subsequent fire. Consequently, the new brewery wasn’t completed until 1912.

The brewery is composed of a series of low-rise brick buildings sitting on a concrete foundation and simply ornamented with concrete and wood. This Romanesque Revival style brewery is one of the last remaining turn-of-the-century brewing complexes of its type.

Romanesque architecture was a style that emerged in Western Europe in the early 11th century. It has Roman and Byzantine elements and is characterized by massive articulated wall structures, round arches, and powerful vaults. This style lasted until the advent of Gothic architecture in the middle of the 12th century. Romanesque Revival was the reuse in the second half of the 19th century of the massive Romanesque forms.

Romanesque architecture in the United States was much simpler than that found in Europe. The Romanesque features of the Jackson Brewery include semicircular arches for the door and window openings and a belt course (a horizontal band across a building).

Due to its brick construction, the Jackson Brewery building did not fare well in the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. A thorough retrofitting was done to upgrade the building to San Francisco’s 1990 building codes. The building is now a mixed-use complex with seven live-work condominiums and a restaurant.

San Francisco is now home to only ten breweries. These include the famous Anchor Steam Brewery and lesser-known local favorites such as The Beach Chalet, Speakeasy and the ThirstyBear.

The Jackson Brewery was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993 and is San Francisco Landmark #199.

Jackson Brewery
1489 Folsom Street, San Francisco [Map]

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