MetroABQ Blog

The Southwest Brewery and Ice Company Building Downtown

Sitting at VM, a hip new Downtown coffee house, & staring northward, the historic Southwest Brewery & Ice Company building is too prominent a neighbor to ignore. Built in 1899, the five-story brick building, which is decorated with wonderful diamond-ribbon brickwork, arched brick lintels & brick columns that run up the building, is one of the only surviving 19th-century commercial buildings in the downtown area.

From an obscure website called the BCCA: the 75x50 five story brick stock house said to be the tallest building in New Mexico in the late 1890's. Its upper story is an attic which covers the full width of the building, east to west. A parapet rises above the south faade which is inscribed S. W. Brewery & Ice Co. 1899. The corners of the attic and the parapet have been extended upward and are capped by sheet metal finials. The top floor has louvered windows with segmental arched surrounds under a brick frieze which embellishes the roof line. A wide black band has been painted on the buildings west wall on which bold white lettering proclaims that this is the Home of Glorieta Beer, a brand name used by the brewery circa 1909. Access to the upper stories is provided by an interesting cast iron circular staircase and by an electric powered elevator with a cage enclosed by wooden slats.

By the start of the 20th century it was one of the MetroABQ's largest employers & its flagship product, Glorieta Beer, was distributed throughout the southwest. The statewide enactment of Prohibition in 1917 forced the company out of the brewing business, but its ice-making operations remained & the facility continued to produce ice for most of the 20th century. It finally closed in 1997.[5]

The South West Brewery & Ice Company attained historic status in the 1970's. Historic status doesn't provide any protections against a tear-down of the building. However, it was recently sold & the new owners, developing more commercail spaces in the area, are keeping the building intact.

Below is the old ice factory as seen from Glorieta Station parking area.

Above is an image of the South West Brewery & Ice Company building, from the ABQ Museum digital photographic archive.