106-118 Lakeshore Drive. Watkins Glen, NY 14891
607.725.0166

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History of Watkins Brewery

The property was first used as a brewery known as the Seneca Lake Brewery. The 1874 Atlas refers to this as the W. Shanley Brewery. The southern portion of the building housed a flour mill later known as the Seneca Lake Steam Flour Mill. The Tradesman National Bank of NY repossessed the property in 1893.

The Welch family of the Welch’s Grape Juice Company owned the property from 1896 to 1911. The actual use at that time is not well documented, but it appears likely that this was a transfer facility for product to barge and rail.

Benjamin Moreland Record then purchased the property and it appeared to be used for various business purposes typically cold storage, food processing, general beverage, and reportedly a brewery business. By 1914 the site was known as Record Cold Storage Company. Prohibition shut down the brewery portion of the business. Around 1924 the facility was referred to as Nestle’s Food Co., Inc. on mapping, but no available historic records cover this timeframe. During Prohibition the facility operated gas pumps at the south end and also sold a line of boats. The boat business accessed the lake directly to the east where a small marina currently operates. Photographs show a large platform to a dock at this location.

Following Prohibition and repeal of the Volstead Act in 1933, Mr. Record, who operated a brewery in Elmira, NY known as Landers Brewery, reopened the Watkins Glen Brewery business.  He was working with his two sons Harry and Frank.   The flood of 1935 (prior to manual lake level control) ended that business and Mr. Record reopened under the Glen Brewing Company, Inc. in 1937.  According to deed records this business went bankrupt in 1940.

Following the bankruptcy Charles Richtmyer obtained the building in 1945. The building was known as the Seneca Frosted Food Locker from about 1945 to 1975, a business which actually operated in the north half of the building.  The Frosted Food locker business housed freezers and refrigeration coupled with butchers to cut and store meat products for area residents at a time when home cold storage was costly and not dependable. In the south half of the building Mr. Richtmyer operated a feed mill through this time. Mr. Richtmyer sold the property in 1989. The new owner operated a garage in the building, stored vehicles and largely utilized the remaining space for various storage purposes. With lack of investment and a true business focus the building began a steady decline and fell into extreme disrepair by 2000. The building was for sale from 2000 to 2012 when the property was conveyed to Watkins Brewery Holdings, LLC.

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