Skip to main content

The Brewery Baron

At the age of 22, George Ehret left Germany to join his father --a brewer --in New York. Within ten years --in 1866-- he established the Hell Gate Brewery, named for its location near Hell's Gate on the East River in Manhattan. For a good part of the late 19th Century, Hell Gate Brewery was the country’s largest brewer, rivaling Anheuser-Busch Pabst and Schlitz. Ehret chronicled his success in a book he published in 1891: Twenty-Five Years of Brewing with an Illustrated History of American Beer.

In addition to the brewery, Ehret amassed substantial real estate holdings in New York City, many of which were rental properties. As both a boss and landlord, Ehret was benevolent. Perhaps his kindness and philanthropic ways were part of the reason that more than 2000 people--–including the German Ambassador--attended his funeral mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in January of 1927, when he died at the age of 92. Ehret was entombed in the family mausoleum in Woodlawn Cemetery, joining his wife, Anna, who died in 1899. Constructed in the French Neo-Classical style, the Ehret mausoleum features two stately lions which guard the entranceway. The Lions were sculpted by John Massey Rhind, a noted Scottish sculptor, whose work includes the John Jacob Astor entrance doors at Trinity Church and the allegorical figures at Grant's Tomb, both in Manhattan. Rhind also produced the Apollo Fountain, a birthday gift for Mrs. Jay Gould, which is now part of Georgian Court University, formerly the Gould estate.

Little more than two years later, in March of 1929, Ehret’s son, George Jr. --who was running the company-- died suddenly, at the age of 53, following surgery in Manhattan’s Lenox Hill Hospital. Just two months before, the Ehret family had donated $700,000 to the hospital --of which George Jr. was a trustee --to endow a memorial building in honor of George Ehret Sr.

The funeral of George Ehret Jr. took place on Saturday, March 30, 1929. Because it fell during Holy Week, the Catholic service at St. Ignatius Loyola on Park Avenue, was brief. Still, it was well-attended, comprised of a mix of family, friends, employees, business associates and government officials, as well as a contingent of Ehret’s Columbia University classmates, the Lenox Hill Hospital Association and the National Democratic Club. The funeral procession to Woodlawn Cemetery was comprised of 50 vehicles and three flower cars transported the many floral tributes. Ehret’s nine million dollar estate, although susbstantial, was far less than the one left by his father, estimated at 50 million. Interestingly, a New York Times article published in November of 1930, quoted Ehret’s wife, now remarried, as saying that $130, 597 went for “funeral and other expenses.”

Ehret’s heirs continued to run the brewery until 1935, when they sold to Col. Jacob Ruppert --who once owned the NY Yankees --in April 1935. A few years later, the Ehret family bought a Brooklyn beverage company, later selling it to Schlitz. The family’s imposing mausoleum stands as an enduring symbol of a time when breweries afforded great riches.


Popular posts from this blog

Joseph Pulitzer, the "Father of Journalism"

Hungarian-born journalist and newspaper publisher, Joseph Pulitzer, was born Jozsef Politzer in 1847. Several years after the death of his father--and after the family’s reversal of fortune--Pulitzer emigrated to the united States. Trying his hand at a variety of jobs, Pulitzer eventually found his true calling as a journalist. In his lifetime, he owned both the New York World and the St. Louis Post Dispatch. Yet, it was what his considerable wealth made possible after his death that has made the Pulitzer name synonymous with Journalism: In 1912, the fist school of journalism was established at Columbia University and in 1917, the first Pulitzer Prizes were awarded.

In October 1911, Pulitzer died unexpectedly aboard his yacht in South Carolina’s Charleston Harbor, at the age of 64. The boat had been en route to Pulitzer’s winter home in Jekyll Island, Georgia, when a hurricane threatened. “Leise, ganz leise, ganz leise (softly, quite softly), were said to be his last words.

On the day…

Baseball Great Jackie Robinson

At the 1972 funeral of Jackie Robinson, 2,500 people packed Riverside Church in New York City. New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, NY City Mayor John Lindsay, Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn and NAACP Executive Director Roy Wilkins were just a few of the dignitaries to join family and friends in saying good-bye to the baseball legend. Rev. Jesse Jackson told the 2,500 strong throng that “The body corrodes and fades away, but the deeds live on.” Indeed, the legacy of Robinson, the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball, has never left us.

The Georgia-born Robinson was a member of the Negro League when he was recruited by Dodgers VP, Branch Rickey, to help integrate the game of baseball. After playing a few seasons for the Dodgers farm team, Robinson made history on April 15, 1947, when he played his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers in Ebbets Field. That same year he was named the National League Rookie of the Year and, in 1949, he was its MVP. With Robinson on th…

Charlotte Canda and a Tragic Accident

One of the most ornate monuments in Green-Wood is that of Charlotte Canda, who died in 1845, on her 17th birthday. Canda’s death was the consequence of a freak carriage accident that occurred on the way home from her birthday celebration. A tablet by the entrance to the monument makes note of this accident which took her life. Her Gothic monument, which --ironically --she helped design as a monument to her aunt, was personalized for young Canda and for years was the most popular monument in Green-Wood. Constructed of white Carrera Mable in the style of a tabernacle, the monument is decorated with 17 rosebuds, flowers, birds and musical instruments. A large statue of Canda in her birthday gown predominates beneath a marble canopy. In an 1893 article, The New World made reference to her “fair form still preserved in Marble.”
Charles Albert Jarrett de la Marie, said to be Canda’s fiancĂ© committed suicide a year after her death and is buried nearby.