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Brewery History

Timeline facts of the Magnolia Brewery Building

Houston Ice & Brewing Company Logo

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 bottle.

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 per year.

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 buildings.

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.

Brew Master Bio

Frantz BrogniezFrantz 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 Milwaukee.

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 exhaustion.

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.



NOTE: this website is an historic archive that is no longer active