Fitger's Brewery Company

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Fitger's Brewery Company

Address: 600 Superior Street E
Duluth, Minnesota
St. Louis County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Year built: 1881-1911
Primary Style: Other
Secondary Style: Other
Historic Function: Other
Architect or source of design: Michael Fink
Material of Exterior Wall Covering: Brick
First Owner: Michael Fink and August Figter

Duluth St. Louis County

Significance It was the most important brewing company in Duluth

The first refrigerator machine in the state of Minnesota was installed at the brewery in 1890



Duluth's first brewery was started by Sidney Luce in 1857. Luce built his brewery a block and a half from the fitger’s present site, and utilized a small, clear brook which later was known as Brewery Creek. His brewery grew, and in 1881 Michael Fink purchased the brewery. Fink built a new, larger brewery on the present Fitger's site. Fink's Lake Superior Brewery soon hired a new brewmaster, a young German named August Fitger who graduated from one of Germany's premier brewing schools. Within the year, August Fitger owned half of the brewery. Then, in 1884, Percy Anneke bought into the brewery and became Fitger's partner. The brewery was renamed the A. Fitger & Co. / Lake Superior Brewery. Beer production continued for forty years, until Prohibition (1920 -1933) changed matters for all breweries around the nation. Many went out of business. Fitger's stayed alive by turning out new products such as soda pop and candy bars. Candy lovers in Duluth during the "Roaring Twenties" enjoyed the Fitger's Flapper, the Fitger's Spark Plug, the Five Cent Fitger's Nut Goodie, the King Bee Nougat, and Fitger's Skookum . . . "A Bully Good Bar." Along with the candy bars, Fitger's cranked out case after case of Lovit Pop, a popular favorite on a hot summer's day down at Park Point. After the repeal of Prohibition, Fitger's resumed brewing strong beer, and business boomed during the 1930's. Production was up to 100,000 barrels a year by 1940. During this time, the Brewery also produced Silver Spray Champagne, advertised as "The Best Mixer In A Crowd." The Beerhalter family purchased the Brewery in 1944, and operated it for the next quarter century. Fitger's Brewery closed its doors on September 30, 1972, ending 115 years of brewing on the shores of Lake Superior. The Fitger's Brewery Complex was re-opened in September of 1984 with a 48 room hotel, two full service restaurants, and a retail center. In 1995, a group of prominent Duluth business people purchased the Complex, and continue as the driving force behind all positive improvements at Fitger's, which include the construction of fourteen luxury suites, new dining options, and the beautiful Lakewalk Access. The Fitger's Brewhouse is once again brewing beer on the premises. Self-guided tour maps of the Fitger's Brewery Complex are available throughout the Complex, and in the museum. [1]

Rehabilitation of the complex began in October of 1982—just over ten years after the Brewery closed its doors. Ronald J. Jacob, a Duluth citizen, envisioned a retailored Fitger’s—one that would continue the tradition of brewing craft beer, but would also meet the needs of a much-changed society. Tourism was growing heavily in Duluth, and Jacob saw an opportunity to rehabilitate the old brewery into a multifaceted establishment that would be ideal for tourists and locals alike. The initial proposal for the renovated space was $9.5 million. Eventually, however, costs were re-estimated to be upwards of $12 million. The final cost upon completion in 1984 was $12.6 million. To raise funds necessary to meet the ever-growing cost of renovation, the City of Duluth paid $6.35 million, under the condition that construction of the brewery meet standards set by the city and the State Historic Preservation Office. Jacob sold the building to a group of Duluth investors in 1994, who continued to make renovations to better meet the needs of tourists and visitors. This decade also represented a shift in the Duluth mindset: Fitger’s was the first attempt at massive historical redevelopment in Duluth. The city refocused its attention from the development of new, modern buildings, like the Radisson hotel, to historic redevelopment in Canal Park and downtown Duluth. The rehabilitation and renovation of Fitger’s represents not only a change in the needs of a growing and changing society, but also an economical turn. Fitger’s supplies Duluth with over 250 long-term and fulltime jobs that pay a total of $2 million annually, as well as roughly 130 construction jobs when investors decide to alter the structure. The investors recognized the continual need to reevaluate the needs of a changing community and modify the building accordingly. Two hotel suites were added to the Fitger’s Inn to accommodate tourists, who came in increasing numbers after the reconstruction of the DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace in 2000 and the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor’s Center in 1973. A small craft beer brewery was established in the heart of the building—like in the 1900s, Fitger’s is currently brewing, bottling, and serving beer to the Duluth community. An iconic smokestack was added, although it is now merely decorative. Because of the increasing amount of residential homes built near Superior Street, as well as the trend of turning single-family mansions into apartment complexes that house several people, 165,000 square feet of retail space have been added, specifically catering the growing Duluth population and visiting tourists. Rather than include typical stores found in a shopping mall, Fitger’s retail space mostly houses independent businesses and boutiques run by Duluth locals—yet another way Fitger’s supports and caters to the needs of a modern society. In addition, some Fitger’s restaurants are not franchises; they are established, owned, and operated by Duluth locals. Much of the building’s original interior has been preserved. The structure and fixtures of the retail arcade were left exposed to “accentuate the industrial nature of the complex,” and the lobby of the Fitger’s Inn includes the original check-in counter. In 1991, extra efforts were made to highlight the unique history of the Fitger’s complex. Relics and memorabilia were assembled and displayed in order to make history the complex’s main attraction. Economically, the complex flourishes and provides stable jobs for hundreds of people. Culturally, it provides access to a historically significant building while simultaneously catering to the needs of a changing society. [2]

Memories and stories

Photo Gallery

Related Links

[1] [2]



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the ARCH5670 Class Project

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