23 February 2012

The Green Mystery of Onderdonk Avenue, Slightly Less Mysterious, And Perhaps More Sudsy

Two years ago, I blogged about this intriguing Ridgewood building at the corner of Onderdonk and Stockholm. I noted the odd color, the odd structure, and the presence, up top, of a number of Jewish stars and four-leaf clovers. I speculated that it was a religious building in the past, but find no evidence of such a past. At the time, there was garment work going on inside.

Recently, a reader wrote in, saying: "Green Mystery; Renovated our home (200 feet away). Found in ceiling on 2nd floor a green bottle with the Star of David. Could the building have been a brewery? Still have the bottle but can't make out all the initals; small b, large N over an A followed by Co."

Interesting. Anybody out there have a clue. I still can't find out anything about this building.

UPDATE: Commenter "Mingusal" sheds some light on the mystery below by reminded us of the six-pointed star's other symbolic past. Do we have a former German beer hall here?


mingusal said...

It sounds like your commentator is on to something there. I think what you have there is most likely an old saloon, and not a religious institution.

The 'bierstern' or beer star was a symbol long used by German brewers, with roots in the old brewers guilds and even alchemy. To the heavily German immigrant population of early 20th century Ridgewood the sight of the stars on that building would have cried "beer here!" Brooklyn's modern-day Sixpoint Brewery uses a modified version of this traditional symbol.

Some more information about the symbol here:

From the always wonderful Shorpy site, a circa 1908 picture of a Manhattan saloon prominently displaying the beer star (with a titillating little mention of Ridgewood):

As for the beer bottle, from the description of the trademark perhaps it once contained the product of the North American Brewing Co., which stood in nearby Bushwick at the corner of Greene St. and Myrtle (which was named Hamburg Ave. here before WWI) from 1892 until the late 40's?

Anonymous said...

What's the street address?

mingusal said...

Sorry, of course it was Wilson Ave. (for the then-current president) which was renamed from the overly-German sounding Hamburg Ave. during WWI. The brewery stood on Greene between Myrtle and Wilson (Hamburg) at the present site of IS 383.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

My friend, you are on to something there. I hadn't thought about the alternative symbolic meaning of that star! And it does look like a building grand enough to have been a prominent local saloon. More research is required here.

upstate Johnny G said...

Hi Brooks! Man, this is an intriguing question. What I learned at a beer history website is that the six pointed star has long been used by beer brewers as a symbol denoting the purity of their product, not as a symbol of Judaism as such. So it looks as though this building, and your reader's bottle may well be associated with a brewery.

I've been going through the info at TavernTrove's website but haven't come up with a brewery yet.

Mitch said...

Interestingly in the Manhattan Saloon picture of mingusal and the bottle in upstate Johnny G the star features a G overlapping with E as the logo. Wonder what that stood for.

Mitch said...

Silly me. It's Geo. Ehret's, just like it says on the sign.

mingusal said...

I wonder if the trademark on the bottle that poster found looked anything like the the one on the right in this picture:


That's a North American Brewery bottle with a bierstern (star of David) on it.

Anonymous said...

1865 Stockholm Street, Historic New York. 1865 was built between 1891 and 1903

Keith said...

My great grandfather, Otto Bohner, owned and operated Hamburg Cafe in the early 20th century at 69 Hamburg Avenue. Not sure if this that site as I am not familiar with the neighborhood, but I know someone mentioned this being near Wilson which used to be Hamburg Ave. Thoughts?