Hugh Hamilton hired architect Eugene
Heiner, an important Houston architect in
the late nineteenth century to design and
build a four-story main building for the
brewery at the original site. In the spring
of 1893, the new building was completed.
By 1915, the company had expanded to
more than ten buildings joined together
physically and stylistically.
The Houston Ice & Brewing Company,
dubbed the Magnolia Brewery, was well
known for its beers, sold at five-cents a
In 1893, the brewery had top-of-the-line
machinery, producing 100 tons of ice and
60,000 barrels of beer per year, all produced
with artesian well water. By 1910, beer
production had expanded to 200,000 barrels
Magnolia Building, located at the corner
of Franklin and Milam Avenues, was
redesigned in 1912 by H.C. Cooke and Co.
The building, which still stands, was
constructed in the footprint of a former
structure known as the Franklin Building.
It is believed that around 1915, the brewery
was at its largest.
With the onset of Prohibition in 1920,
the brewery began its decline and was forced
to place its sole dependence on the
manufacture of ice when the brewery
accounted for the majority of the company’s
profits. It was at this time the brewery
changed its name to Houston Ice & Cold
Storage and began leasing, or selling, its
In 1922, Hugh Hamilton passed away
before witnessing the full demise of the
company. The Houston Ice & Brewing Co.
struggled to survive, but was finally shut
down in 1950.
Following the shut down, the building
housed many different businesses before
Bart Truxillo purchased it in 1968 from a
bank trust. By this time, the building was
in poor condition and was being occupied
by homeless people. Truxillo immediately
began the building’s restoration.
Despite all of its dramatic history, the
Magnolia Brewery Building survived and
is now a small souvenir of the company that
helped make Houston the historical and
industrial center of Texas at one time.
Frantz H. Brogniez was born October 26,
1860, at Haine-Saint-Paul, in Hainaut,
Belgium. His father was a noted Brew
Master and for 25 consecutive years, served
in the Belgian senate at Brussels.
In 1881, Brogniez entered the University
of Louvain and enrolled in “Special
Sciences,” including engineering and biochemistry.
He continued his studies at the
Louis Pasteur Institute in France.
In 1882, Brogniez went to Lichterveld
to work in a brewery. While there, he
developed the first “blond” beer in Belgium.
With the view of following in his
ancestors’ steps in the brewing art, Brogniez
came to America and settled in Detroit. In
1896, he established a brewery and operated
it until he released his interests to develop
a brewing establishment in Terre Haute,
Indiana in 1904. He developed the Terre
Haute establishment from a small enterprise
to one of the largest in the nation.
Due to his wife becoming ill and needing
to live in a warmer climate, in 1912,
Brogniez and his family moved to Houston.
Brogniez took charge of the Houston Ice &
Brewing Company, building the
establishment from a little concern to the
largest brewing company south of
In 1913, Brogniez’ brewing art brought
him into international fame. He was
awarded the Grand Prize for his Southern
Select beer at the International Congress of
Brewers, in competition with 4,096
brewmasters from all over the world.
In the wake of prohibition, Brogniez
went to El Paso in 1923 and became
associated with brewing interests in Juarez.
With the repeal of Prohibition apparent,
Howard Hughes was urged to get into the
brewing business and agreed to do so on
the condition that Frantz Brogniez be the
brewmaster. Brogniez and his family
arrived back in Houston, which he had
adopted as his home city, in 1933 and
personally supervised construction of the
large plant of the Gulf Brewing Company.
He was in charge of the company’s
operations until June, when he underwent
mandatory bed rest due to illness and
Frantz P. Brogniez, sone of the wellknown
brewmaster, who throughout his
lifetime had been trained in the brewing arts
of the Brogniez family, took charge of
operating the Gulf Brewing Company after
his father’s death.
Frantz H. Brozniez’ career in Houston
was another impressive episode in the
history of the family, which for 260 years
had been outstanding in the brewing arts.