Garfield Street Historic Saloon to display beer memorabilia at street fair

News-DemocratMay 22, 2014 

The Garfield Street Historic Saloon is a work in progress and this week progress has been good, said Larry Betz, president of the Belleville Historical Society.

"We're trying to get some things done before the Old Belleville Street Fair, June 7 in the Old Belleville Historic District," he said. "It's coming to fruition, but it's hard work."

The latest work includes restoring the brick parapet atop the building at the corner of East Garfield Street and Mascoutah Avenue. A workman also installed a new front window, while work continues on restoring floors and painting the outside wooden trim and doors.

Even though the museum won't be finished, the society plans to use it to display some of its Belleville beer industry collection during the street fair, Betz said.

They have some items that were used at the Western/Stag Brewery and the Star Brewery. Those are the only two Belleville breweries that survived Prohibition, so they plan to focus on them, Betz said.

He said they have bottles, cases, beer kegs and some great photos.

"A woman, whose grandfather and father both worked at Western Brewery, donated the diamond ring her father got when he retired," he said.

The society bought the building for $30,000 in 2010 and hopes to have it completed and open for regular hours by next spring.

The building was erected around 1895 by Adam Gintz, president of Western Brewery Co., Betz said. The society learned that Gintz built two others like it in Belleville and then leased them to the brewery.

"It was a saloon up until Prohibition," Betz said. "Then we have had quite a few stories that you still could get a drink in there if you knew who to ask.

"It became Frank and Lil's, then just Lil's and Lil's Second Time Around."

It was remodeled and became Garfield's and then the Brick Street Bar and Grill before closing in 2010.

Betz said they hope to restore the building to the era when it was built.

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