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Heath Street Breweries

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1886–1960. Heath St.
  • American Brewing Company complex (Peter Vanderwarker or Antonina Smith)

Historically a center of the local brewing industry in Roxbury, the Stony Brook Valley along Heath Street contains three major complexes representing that industry. From a Dublin family of brewers, John R. Alley founded the oldest, the Eblana Brewery (123–125 Heath Street). After working in Providence and New York, Alley moved to Boston in 1867 and entered into partnership with Henry H. Rueter. In 1886 he formed his own company and hired Philadelphia architect Otto Wolf to design this four-story complex. The filling in of the windows with brick in 1960 modified the original building, a free interpretation of Renaissance architectural motifs, when it was converted for light manufacturing.

Much more intact, the American Brewing Company complex (249A Heath Street) remains the most architecturally elaborate surviving brewery in Boston. Frederick Footman designed the east section of the complex around a courtyard entered through two large round arches with stone voussoirs. To the right is a two-story section built for offices extending to Lawn Street. On the west side stand two massive four-story brick buildings used for manufacturing and storage. James W. Kenney, another Irish-born brewer, was one of the principal founders of the American Brewing Company, one of ten breweries consolidated into the Massachusetts Breweries Company in 1900. Since 1958 the complex has been used for a furniture storage and moving company.

The Roxbury Brewing Company (1896–1897, 31 Heath Street) produced ale and stout on a lot adjoining the Heath Street Station of the Old Colony Railroad. Also designed by Frederick Footman, this four-story Italian Renaissance structure fronts Heath Street. The Roxbury Brewing Company was short-lived, acquired by Rueter and Co., in the early 1900s. In 1999, Archatelier imaginatively renovated the building for the Family Service Center of Greater Boston.

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan


What's Nearby


Keith N. Morgan, "Heath Street Breweries", [Boston, Massachusetts], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Massachusetts

Buildings of Massachusetts: Metropolitan Boston, Keith N. Morgan, with Richard M. Candee, Naomi Miller, Roger G. Reed, and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009, 242-242.

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