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[Editor’s Note. This article was cross-posted from the blog of Michael C. Wells Photography. It appears here with permission. All photos courtesy Michael C. Wells Photography.]

 

In Louisville, Kentucky’s Smoketown neighborhood, on the corner of Logan Street and Lampton Street, sits the historic building known best as the Merchants’ Ice Tower. To the casual observer, it appears as if this decaying structure is simply waiting on its demolition date to eventually come. (In fact, a portion of the structure was razed earlier this year.) However, seeing that this building is solid concrete with a brick veneer, demolition seems highly unlikely in the near future. What was once a building of gorgeous Beaux Arts brick, now stands as an eyesore to the community surrounding it.

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The tower was originally built in 1881 as the Schaefer-Meyer Brewing Company. Beer production reached over 50,000 barrels per year in 1901 and the Schaefer-Meyer Brewery combined with several other companies under the name Central Consumer Company, and began producing (Frank) Fehr beer.

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With a capacity of over two million square feet, the brewery was the largest in the Southern Region of the United States. Schaefer-Meyer was later sold to the Fehr Brewing Company, but the brewing operation did not survive the prohibition in 1919.

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To adapt to the changing times, the business changed to cold storage and ice production in 1920. The original facade was emblazoned with a large stone “F” in each corner.

In time, the structure found itself under the new ownership and management of Merchants’ Ice & Cold Storage Company. It is unknown when exactly Merchants’ Ice & Cold Storage went out of business in the tower, but records we obtained indicated that diesel tanks (for the trucks) were being maintained all the way through 1981.

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The tower has had a number of potential buyers over the past few decades. In 2006, it was going to become a nice mixture of retail and residential space, but was never fully developed. In 2010, it was going to become one of the nicest senior living and condominium buildings within the Southern region of the United States, but once again that idea was never fully developed.

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Near the end of 2010, loose bricks were observed randomly falling from the tower. This issue was resolved by removing the astonishing brick that the tower had on its outer walls. Inside, concrete and cast iron columns still stand firm, holding the concrete tower and the Brew House together. Inside the Brew House is an ornate cast iron staircase.

What will ever become of the Ice Tower? Will it ever be anything more than a piece of history simply melting away from our society drop by drop? For now, its very existence seems to have gone cold in the minds of the people of the City of Louisville.

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Michael C. Wells

Michael C. Wells

Michael is the owner and lead photographer at Michael C. Wells Photography. In his spare time, he enjoys doing small painting projects, serving on the board of his children's football and cheer organization, and living as a happily married father to four adopted children.
Michael C. Wells

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Wish it would be torn down kids are going up in the building throwing brick down at my car and my wife and kids that have damaged my car the police will not to anything about I’ve called the city nothing is getting done I wish I knew the owner of the building so he can close it up better or keep paying for the damage to my car and house some one is gonna get hurt or killed by them kids throwing bricks off the top of the building what do I have to do to get something done about this situation I’ve been dealing with this for 6 to 7 months of someone could help me and get the building locked up to where no one canvget up in it would be done with me the owner needs to do something about it or I will be contacting a lawyer and we can hand it threw the court’s…

  2. Needs to be completely locked down, trespassers keep going in there’s going to be a bigvlaw suit against the city and police dept for not doing nothing about they hit my wife yesterday and bow im contacting my lawyer.. There’s $2,600 dollars in damage to my car that has been done… So the city Wil pay for it cause if they dont want to do nothing about it they can pay for the damages they’ll get tired of it sooner or later…

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