“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Mount Vernon in Baltimore, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

King Gambrinus, 1879

King Gambrinus, 1879 Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Don Morfe, April 16, 2011
1. King Gambrinus, 1879 Marker
King Gambrinus originally stood in a niche above the door at John Frederick Wiessner and Sons’ Baltimore brewery. It is the earliest surviving zinc sculpture of this popular icon of the brewing industry in the United States.

In the second half of the 19th century most of the immigrants coming to Baltimore on the new steamship lines were German-speaking. This German-American community supported several German-language newspapers, joined German clubs, held masquerade balls, picnics, sporting events, operas, and brewed beer. John Frederick Wiessner, the son of a German brewer, arrived in Baltimore in 1853 and opened a brew house in the 1700 block of North Gay Street ten years later. In 1887 the company expanded and built a new brew house, which still stands at 1701 North Gay Street. At the time, this building, with its elaborate brickwork and tall central tower, was one of the largest modern breweries in the state.

J. F. Wiessner and Sons Brewing Company closed due to prohibition (1920-1933) in 1924. The American Malt Company purchased the operation in 1931 and produced malt until the repeal of prohibition two years later.
King Gambrinus, 1879 Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Don Morfe, April 16, 2011
2. King Gambrinus, 1879 Marker
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After prohibition, the company reorganized as the American Brewery, began brewing beer. King Gambrinus was moved across the street to the brewery’s beer garden and it became a local landmark. During the 1960s, the statue feel into disrepair, and Kenneth DeFontes, Sr. a truck mechanic at American Brewery, was entrusted to put it back together. It was later moved in front of the brew house where it stood until the brewery closed in 1973. In 1976 King Gambrinus was the centerpiece of the Smithsonian Institution’s Arts and Industries Building exhibit, 1876: A Centennial Exhibition.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Industry & Commerce. A significant historical year for this entry is 1853.
Location. 39° 17.832′ N, 76° 37.152′ W. Marker is in Baltimore, Maryland. It is in Mount Vernon. The King Gambrinus marker and statue are located on the grounds of the Maryland Historical Society. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 201 West Monument Street, Baltimore MD 21201, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. On To Yorktown (a few steps from this marker); H. Irvine Keyser (within shouting distance of this marker); In Full Glory (within shouting distance of this marker); The Enoch Pratt House (within shouting distance of this marker); Maryland Historical Society (within
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shouting distance of this marker); Striving for Civil Liberties: The Progressives of Mount Vernon (within shouting distance of this marker); Grace and St. Peter's Church (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); John Eager Howard (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Baltimore.
Credits. This page was last revised on December 12, 2022. It was originally submitted on November 9, 2012, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 692 times since then and 12 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on November 9, 2012, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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Feb. 4, 2023