In 1850, Bernhard Stroh arrived in Detroit with a suitcase in one hand and a treasured family beer recipe in the other, embarking on one of America’s greatest suds success stories.
Stroh’s would not only become Detroit’s largest brewer, but the third largest in the country.
This massive, million-square-foot factory at Gratiot near I-75 grew as the company did, with buildings dating from the 1860s to 1914. In late 1890, the firm Spier & Rohns was hired to make extensive additions and improvements to the Stroh campus, including building a 25-foot-by-70-foot fireproof stockhouse, a 60-foot-by-100-foot bottling works, and a new ice-machine plant. These additions made the brewery the largest in Michigan and formed some of the most visible parts of the plant.
By 1956, the Detroit brewery was pumping out 2.7 million barrels of beer — 83.7 million gallons.
In the 1980s, the family-owned company had acquired several struggling competitors, and had grown too big, too fast and was struggling itself. On Feb. 8, 1985, Stroh’s announced it was closing its Detroit facility, calling it too costly to run and too inefficient compared with newer facilities it had acquired. The plant was shuttered that May, bringing an end to 135 years of tradition and costing 1,159 Detroiters their jobs.
The factory was imploded in two phases -- on April 13, 1986, and July 13, 1986 -- with the land soon redeveloped as Brewery Park.
In 1999, the struggling company was imploded, too, split up and sold to Miller Brewing and Pabst.