November 20, 1906: New brewery announced for Duluth

On this day in Duluth in 1906, local newspapers reported that a new brewery would be constructed in West Duluth. The People’s Brewery was established by Duluthians Patrick Doran (president), Frank G. Sanstedt (vice president), J. B. Dunphy (secretary), Martin Smith (treasurer) and directors C. F. W. Korth, Mike Gleason, Thomas Doyle, and Charles M. Forest, along with F. C. Toelle of Detroit. While it has been long believed that the brewery was started by socialists to “resist the evils of capitalism,” that was far from the truth. Toelle was a salesman who convinced local “liquor retailers” (i.e., saloon and hotel owners) they could make more money making their own beer. By the time he came to Duluth, Toelle had established at least 16 other breweries throughout the U.S.—including another called “People’s.” In fact, Toelles skipped town before the brewery was built, but the Duluthians pressed on without him. In 1908 they constructed a brewery at 4230 West Second Street, a five-story facility faced with brick and Bedford stone trim. By then Sanstedt was president and  Ernest A. Koenig was brewmaster. When Prohibition shut down the brewery in 1920, it turned to making soft drinks and became one of the first in the nation to manufacture and market 7-Up. It turned back to beer after Prohibition ended, but closed in 1956 due to increasing competition from large, national brewery conglomerates. Much of the complex was razed in 1975, but parts of still stand today as home to Brock-White and Serv-Pro. Read more about Duluth’s historic breweries here.

Duluth’s Peoples Brewery c. 1908. (Image: Duluth Public Library)