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Funkstown – Foggy Bottom’s “Other” Breweries

By Frank Leone


The best-known lost brewery in D.C. was Foggy Bottom’s Christian Heurich Brewing Company, located at what is now the Kennedy Center. But Heurich’s massive facility was not the only brewery in Foggy Bottom. The neighborhood hosted four other breweries, including D.C.’s first and another one of its biggest breweries. These breweries competed with the 25-30 other breweries operating in D.C. between 1860 and 1900.


Washington Brewery” was the first brewery in the brand-new city. Dr. Cornelius Coningham (1746-1820) opened the two-story stone brewery in 1796. It was located in the village of Funkstown, along the Potomac River shoreline at what is now Constitution Avenue between 20th and 21st Street NW (Square 129).  Coningham was an English businessman, slaveholder, physician, and civic activist.  He had gone into business with James Greenleaf, an early D.C. land speculator, who later served time in debtors’ prison. In 1805, Coningham moved his operations to a new site near the Navy Yard in Southeast Washington where it operated until 1836.

Washington Brewery (the one at K and 27th Streets, discussed below) in an advertisement from February and March 1865 (Daily National Intelligencer, reprinted in Washington DC Area Beer and Soda Bottles).

Georgetown Brewery” was actually located in Foggy Bottom/West End, on the east side of Rock Creek, at the northwest corner of K and 27th Streets. William Hayman built the three-story brick brewery in 1830, with a capacity of 6,000 barrels/year. It was near the terminus of the newly opened C&O Canal. It went through various owners and was renamed the Washington Brewery in 1850 (the one near the Navy Yard having closed) and was the largest brewery in the city in 1857. From 1850 to 1858, it was operated by Englishman Joseph Davison, specializing in pale ale. From 1859-1873, Clement Colineau operated the brewery.  In 1873 Henry S. Martin and George B. Wilson bought the site, renaming it Arlington Brewery. It closed sometime after 1879.


Christian Heurich’s nephew, Charles Jacobson, opened the Arlington Bottling Company in 1885 in the Georgetown/Washington/Arlington  brewery location. The plant bottled Heurich’s Lager and Maerzen beers. It shifted to soft drinks and unpopular non-alcoholic beers during prohibition (1917-1933). The historic building was torn down after World War II to make room for the Whitehurst Freeway.


Charles Gerecke advertised in 1856 that he was brewing lager at his brewery at Pennsylvania Avenue and 19th Street NW, but nothing else is known of this facility.

Abner-Drury Brewery, 1910 (Library of Congress). The building includes masonry structures with arched and flat windows, contrasting stone belt-courses, lintels, and arch keystones; The tower features a cupola, and decorative brick corbelling below the cornice line.

John Albert, an immigrant from Bavaria, opened Albert and Co. brewery in 1870, located on 25th between F and G Streets NW (2445 F St./2425 G St.), near the current site of the President Juarez statue. In 1897, German immigrant Edward Abner and his Irish immigrant partner Peter Drury bought the brewery. (Drury may have been the only Irish, as opposed to German, immigrant to run a brewery in D.C.) The Abner-Drury Brewery was one of Heurich’s main rivals and grew into a nine-building complex, with “Old Glory” as its flagship brand. Karl Eglof served as the plant’s “jovial brewmaster” from the plant’s opening until at least 1934. It and Heurich were the only local breweries to survive prohibition (1917-1934).


In 1935, Abner-Drury reorganized in bankruptcy and emerged renamed as Washington Brewery (which was where we started), but it closed down in 1938. Local breweries could not compete with national “shipping” breweries, which were able to pasteurize and ship their beer nationwide, supported by national advertising. In 1938, the brewery building was sold to Charles Jacobsen, president of the Arlington Bottling Company. The Abner-Drury facility became the Gitchner Iron Works during World War II. The remains of the brewery were demolished in 1962 to make way for the street grid near the Kennedy Center and Watergate.

Abner-Drury brewery and truck, 1930s (Theodore Horydczak Collection, Library of Congress)

Sources: Heurich House Museum; Daniel R. Tana, The Last Call: Preserving Washington’s Lost Historic Breweries, University of Maryland Master’s Degree Thesis, 2013; Washington DC Area Beer & Soda Bottles; Mark Elliot Benbow, The Nation’s Capital Brewmaster:  Christian Heurich and His Brewery, McFarland & Co., 2017; Garrett Peck, Capital Beer: A Heady History of Brewing in Washington, History Press, 2014; Garrett Peck, Prohibition in Washington, History Press, 2011; “Local Brewery Is Scene of Prosperous Activities: Carloads of Bottles Arriving, Huge Vats Being Cleaned and Labyrinth of Machinery Polished to Brew for Thirsty Washington,” The Washington Post, Mar. 26, 1933; FBA History Project.


May is:  Historic Preservation Month – Check out the DC Preservation League; Jewish American Heritage Month – Visit D.C.’s new Capital Jewish Museum;  and Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month – Read our post on Foggy Bottom’s Manila House.



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