From Prohibition to Demolition: the Baltimore Pure Rye Distillery Story.
When Prohibition was repealed in 1933, it represented an enormous opportunity for businesses to construct distilleries, breweries, and wineries. The Baltimore Pure Rye Distilling Co. was one of many built across the United States during that period; it was, in fact, one of two in the Dundalk section of Baltimore, an area that only had 8,000 residents at the time. Maryland has been known for its bold and spicy whiskey since the 1800s due to its soft water and superior rye.
The Baltimore Pure Rye Distillery was operated by its president, William E. Kricker, and their products bore his photo and signature as a sign of authenticity. Upon Kricker’s death in 1957, the distillery closed and was subsequently purchased by Seagram’s Corporation, who used it to produce the Paul Jones and Four Roses brands – although an article in the Baltimore Sun lists the sale as taking place in 1942 from Frankford Distillers. Newspaper archives have not provided much help sorting out the disparity, but references to the Baltimore Pure Rye Co. seem to end in 1944. Whatever the case, under Seagram’s ownership, the plant produced whiskey and rums, including Captain Morgan, Ron Rico, and Myers’. The property was closed around 1990 in a push to sell low-profit brands, laying off 300 employees. Other businesses on the property, including a welding shop, furniture refinisher, lawn care company, and print shop, closed not long after.
After its closure, the site sat vacant for decades, during which historic designation was sought for the buildings. Instead, they were left to rot. In 2012, a 19-year-old exploring the site fell 60 feet to his death when a catwalk collapsed beneath him, and another 24-year-old man fell to his death in similar circumstances in 2014. Fires broke out on the property a dozen times (elsewhere listed as six, although I believe 12 is more accurate) after 2008, threatening nearby houses and angering the community. When another fire in 2017 critically injured a 40-year-old man, a judge mandated the demolition of a warehouse on the property, and the ruins of the distillery were demolished within days. Currently, it is the site of a townhouse development.
Matthew Christopher MD Dundalk Oct 11, 2023 Abandoned Places History
Location: Dundalk, MD
Matthew Christopher Oct 11, 2023
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