August 14, 2019 | Story by: Erin Utter | Photos by: Taylor J. Photography- Header photo. Courtesy of Hayley Pierzynski
Brewery Becker is a staple in Brighton. We spoke to the owner and brewmaster, Matt Becker. He gave us more information on the history of Brewery Becker, the building, and a sneak peek and what’s to come for the business!
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History of the Brewery Becker Building
The Western House is a three-story, Italianate, brick structure which retains many original details. It is the tallest building in the surrounding downtown Brighton and illustrates a major period of expansion for the City of Brighton. The railroad’s arrival at a critical point in 1871 precipitated a time of prosperity and building for both the community and the state. The boom resulting from the 1871 arrival of the railroad brought Brighton its first bank, first newspaper since 1843, and a two-fold increase in population. To take advantage of the railroad trade and transient population, the Western House was built in 1873 on Main Street next to the tracks and near the Detroit, Lansing and Northern Railroad depot.
Brewery Becker was once the Historic Western House Hotel. Construction started on the hotel in 1871, and opened for business in 1873. The hotel was built by Asa Rounsifer, who claimed to have “Touched every brick in the building with his own hands”. Originally called the “Rounsifer House”, within a couple of years Asa lost the hotel in the “Long Depression”, which started with the “Panic of 73” and ended in 1879.
The next owners operated the hotel successfully. With its location next to the railroad depot (located where the railroad parking lot is today, north of the brewery), business was flowing steady. During the following couple decades the hotel served as a meeting place and town center. It was famous for serving large dinners, as well as unique guests such as an escaped circus elephant hiding in the basement of the hotel. With the rise of the automobile, train traffic declined. With the decline, the hotel saw its fortunes decline as well. The hotel was eventually converted into a bar and boarding house.
Throughout the 80s and 90s the building served as a variety of establishments, such as Kelley Services, The Garden Spot Restaurant, and Ameriprise Financial. The restoration of the building for the brewery started with its purchase in 2010. Over the next four years the hotel was restored to its current state. The reconstruction was tedious and the building was replicated as best as possible.Book A Room
History of Brewery Becker
The idea for a brewery had been on Matt Becker’s mind since 1989. It was a long time project which took shape over two decades. The idea for Brewery Becker all started with a summer in Germany.
500 W Main Street has been home to Brewery Becker since 2014. Much of the integrity and history remains in the building today, and was kept a priority by the owners when renovating and remodeling.
The Becker family purchased the building and invested a lot of time and resources to renovate the space, from the basement to third floor, keeping the Historic integrity of the original era it was built in. The bar top as seen in the tap room is made from wood repurposed from the building itself. Old salvaged bricks from Detroit were hand selected for use in the building’s addition. Thought and detail can be appreciated throughout the space, from the hand painted walls to the lighting, and to the beautiful tin ceilings seen in the bathrooms. Making an outdoor space to enjoy, the award winning Bier Garten was also added. The Brewery opened its doors to the public in July of 2014.
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The hotel was added to the national registry of historic places in the 1980s. Now freshly restored, Becker hopes the hotel has another 150 years of life ahead of her. As far as our future goes, Matt Becker plans on continuing the slow expansion so they can be more widely available. That, and they want to keep making great classic beers.
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