Kessler Brewing Company
1865-1958
46°36'30.89"N 112° 4'48.72"W


COURTESY OF THE DAVID POOR COLLECTION

Nickolas Kessler
1832-1901
Read His Obituary

The Kessler Brewing Company -- originally the Ten Mile Brewery -- was located on Helena's far west side, just west of todays' Spring Meadow Lake (formerly Helena Sand & Gravel). It operated from 1865 to 1958. Some of the buildings are still standing. From 1984 to 2000, a Helena micro-brewery operated under the Kessler name, but their product was brewed in town, not at the old brewery.

What would become the Kessler Brewing Company was founded in 1865 by Charles Beeher. In 1868, Beeher was bought out by Luxembourg-born Nickolas Kessler, an entrepreneur who had turned from gold prospecting to trade and manufacturing.

 

1868 Helena City Directory Ad

 

Kessler Bricks

Kessler soon started a brickyard near his brewery, and in this way helped to build the city of Helena.

Helena's world-reknowned Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts had its beginning in Kessler's brickyard. Click here for the story, courtesy of the State of Montana's visitmt.com website.

By all accounts, Kessler was an exceptionally friendly and honest man, and his death was widely mourned. Kessler School, one-third mile SE of the old brewery, is named for him.

 

The Kessler Brewery, as Engraved for an 1890 Perspective Map of Helena



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Kessler Brewery, 1890s


CIRCA 1892 LITHOGRAPH BY WARD BROS., COLUMBUS OHIO - COLLECTION OF KENNON BAIRD

 

A History of the Kessler Brewery from the Independent Record
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Kessler Brewery, Possibly During Prohibition

 

Kessler Brewery Buildings, 2011


PHOTO BY KENNON BAIRD



Kessler Beer Delivery Wagon
In front of the bottling plant

 

 

Two handsome Kessler Brewing Co. Advertising bar trays, circa 1900





Kessler Loreli Beer Advertising Ashtray, Date Unknown

 

Kessler Lorelei Beer Label, Date Unknown


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Kessler Bavarian Beer Label, Date Unknown



Kessler Bock Beer Label, Date Unknown

 

Kessler Muenchener Kindl Beer label, date unknown


 

Kessler Beer Label, Date Unknown


COURTESY OF THE DAVID POOR COLLECTION



Kessler's Brewery Letterhead Design


 

 

Kessler Brewing Co. workers, ca. 1880




1935 Earthquakes Heavily Damage the Brewery

In October and November of 1935, the Helena area suffered a series of strong earthquakes, accompanied by hundreds of small aftershocks. Damage was severe and widespread.

The Kessler Brewery smokestack was cracked and the boiler room damaged in one of the early quakes. A Northern Pacific locomotive was used to power the brewery for a time...


Locomotive Powers Brewery


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Two Killed in October 31, 1935 Earthquake While Repairing Stack
DAMAGED BRICK SMOKESTACK COLLAPSES DURING SECOND BIG QUAKE

After the Collapse


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Brick masons Bernard Vincent Kennedy and Edward F. O'Brien were killed by an earthquake on October 31, 1935 as they worked to repair the damaged stack seen here. Kennedy and O'Brien had come to Helena with a crew from Salt Lake City, and were rooming at 118 North Warren (building now gone).

The chimney had been badly cracked by a previous quake, and the two men were removing all the bricks from the top down to the start of the crack. They had just reached the place where the crack began when another severe earthquake occured. Much of the remaining stack collapsed, and the two men hit the ground in a cascade of falling brick. O'Brien died at the scene, Kennedy died a short time later at St. Peter's Hospital.


Further Demolition at Kessler


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1940s Aerial View of the Kessler Brewery


COURTESY OF KATHRYN FEHLIG

 

 

Kessler Brewing Co. Employees, July 21, 1949
Facial Hair Grown for City-wide "Golden Canyon Days" Celebration


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Local 1950 Newspaper Ad

 


Kessler "Cone Top" Can and Glass Quart Label, 1950s

 



Kessler Brewing Co. matchbooks, 1950s

 

 

In 2001, the 1860s Kessler mansion adjacent to the brewery was heavily damaged by fire. It was caused by a child playing with fireworks the barn, which was also destroyed.

 

Kessler Brewery Well, 2011


PHOTO BY KENNON BAIRD

During the 1950s, and probably well before that, there was a spigot on the side of the pictured little shed-like structure from which anyone could draw pure, cold well water for free.

 

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