495 Tennessee Street
I covered the Tennessee Brewery about two years ago as part of an article on abandoned and possibly haunted buildings in Memphis. There have been developments with the Sears Crosstown Building as the local arts community has begun using the building for arts functions. The Sterick Building remains closed and for sale as far as I know while the Tennessee Brewery has been scheduled a date with destiny.
The owners of the building have announced that the building will be demolished on August 1st if no one steps forward to purchase the abandoned structure before then. However, innovative plans have recently been hatched to temporarily use the building ahead of the possible demolition in an effort to arouse interest. Six weeks of events, titled “Tennessee Brewery Untapped,” will be held in the building and expected to draw a crowd. Live music will echo through the aging halls of the brewery while beer—the products of local micro-breweries—will be served in a café that will operate in the building. Other events will include food trucks, mobile retail, movie screenings and workshops.
With so many people expected to crowd into the massive structure, it will be interesting to see how the spirits react. Laura Cunningham in Haunted Memphis states that the spirits “appear to be angry.” This anger may be assumed from the loud noises that can sometimes cause the building to shake while some investigators have been touched, pinched and pushed.
Interestingly, in a 2012 article for the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Michael Einspanjer, founder of Memphis Paranormal Investigators states that “the spirits stuck in the building just couldn’t let go in life, they aren’t threatening.” The article notes that Einspanjer’s group has investigated the brewery at least 12 times, and he states that the building is “a very haunted place.”
In looking through the material on the haunting of the brewery, it is very interesting to note that most sources do not speculate as to why the brewery may be haunted. Spurred on by the articles relating to Tennessee Brewery Untapped, I decided to check Newspapers.com to see what may be found relating to the brewery’s history. Indeed, I came up with a few very interesting leads.
The first event dates to 1888, just before the brewery’s construction: papers in early August report a massive fire at the brewery that destroyed parts of the brewery as well as adjacent structures. The current structure dates to 1890. No deaths are reported in any of the articles, though the massive fire may have left a spiritual imprint on the site.
The second event dates to 1903 and involves at least one death. On April 15 of that year, Adolph Heinz, a German citizen and employee of the brewery was shot and killed. The article appeared in countless papers, obviously pulled from wire services and does not state exactly where the shooting took place. Reportedly, an African-American man named Gary Morgan asked Heinz to bring him a pail of beer. When Heinz refused, Morgan—“a negro with a picturesque police record”—shot him. The article notes that members of the local German community assembled to hunt down Morgan to lynch him. As of yet, nothing has turned up to reveal if Morgan was apprehended.
A third event was reported by the Associated Press in 1950. Prior to December 17th, an employee at the brewery fell from a stairway at the brewery and was killed when his head struck the floor. Perhaps his spirit is among the spirits remaining in the building.
Tennessee Brewery Untapped is scheduled to begin April 24th and run through June 1st.
Cunningham, Laura. Haunted Memphis. Charleston: History Press, 2009.
Douglas, Andrew. “Group pushes to save old Tennessee Brewery building.”
WMCTV. 31 March 2014.
“FLAMES IN A BREWERY: The Tennessee Brewery at Memphis Badly
Damaged—Other Fires Yesterday.” Chicago Daily Tribune. 11 August
“Killed in fall.” Kingsport Times-News. 17 December 1950.
Meek, Andy. “New Partners Sign On to Tennessee Brewery Effort.” Memphis
Daily News. 4 April 2014.
Meek, Andy. “Plans Coming Together for Tennessee Brewery Untapped.”
Memphis Daily News. 26 March 2014.
“One of the Kaiser’s Subjects Killed by Memphis Negro.” The Atlanta
Constitution. 16 April 1903.
Pickrell, Kayla. “Haunted Memphis: Brewery a piece of history.” The
Commercial Appeal. 24 July 2012.
Poe, Ryan. “Tennessee Brewery Untapped gets beer license.” Memphis Business
Journal. 2 April 2014.