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Makers Craft Brewery Norfolk Virginia


The Historic Norfolk & Western Railroad District

Norfolk’s railroad district is an up and coming area including refurbished warehouses, breweries, restaurants, art studios, businesses and people coming together to celebrate what once was and what is yet to come.                   


The Norfolk and Western Railroad Historic District encompasses an historic industrial district of Norfolk, Virginia. Centered on the tracks of the Norfolk and Western Railroad between Bowden's Ferry Road and Monticello Avenue, it extends as much as three blocks north and south of the tracks, including within its bounds most of the industrial resources found in that area. This area was developed roughly between 1890 and the 1930s, and includes fine examples of late 19th century commercial brick architecture, and a few fine examples of Art Deco styling. The district partially overlaps the Park Place Historic District to the north, and the Williamston-Woodland Historic District to the south.The district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015.


[1] Portions of this article are from the NRHP National_Register_of_Historic_Places and  also reference Facebook the Railroad District, Norfolk



By the end of the Civil War, rail lines throughout the City of Norfolk were broken, and commerce was almost nonexistent. The railroad and cotton, however, contributed to Norfolk's economic recovery during and after reconstruction. Tracks of the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad were repaired, and trains carrying cotton, corn, flour, peanuts, tobacco, wheat, and timber for export began arriving at Norfolk's docks. A new rail connection was made within a few years between the Seaboard and Roanoke Railroads. This turned the city into a center for cotton export during the 1870s and 1880s. In the 1870s, the Port of Norfolk began outdistancing the Fall Line Cities in commercial trade. While the new rail connections contributed to increased trade, it was a change in shipbuilding technology which was the main factor in this recovery. Larger, heavier ocean-going steamships could not navigate the shallow inland rivers leading to Richmond and other cities as sailing ships and barges could. Deep-water ports such as Norfolk became the centers for sea-going trade as a result.


Huntersville, one of Norfolk’s oldest and most intact settlements remaining from the late 19th century, is unique because it was not planned by a company or commission, but developed over time. It was also unique because this small area, which is located today in the heart of the City of Norfolk, was the most cosmopolitan of Norfolk's neighborhoods. It was the only predominantly Black neighborhood to be annexed during the more than 70 years of annexation. The southern portion of Huntersville had been part of the land belonging to Samuel Boush which was taken within the city limits in 1761. In 1890, Huntersville consisted of small frame houses mostly clustered in the area of Church Street. There was once a botanical and zoological park named Lesner’s Park located between Lee (Lexington) and Washington Streets in the middle of the neighborhood. There was also an "old Burying Ground" north of the intersection of Church and Goff Streets. Industry in the neighborhood was localized south east of the intersection of Church Street and the rail line leading from the Lambert’s Point Shipyard. The two industries located on this area were the Baltimore United Oil Company, and the company stables belonging to the City of Norfolk’s Railroad.

In 1900, this area had grown 70% in housing and 20% in commercial interests along Church Street. Additionally, industry had expanded due to the sale of Lesner’s Park to a brewery in 1895.




More than a half dozen local brewers of lager beer appear in the Norfolk city directory of 1900, the most prominent of which, or at least the most heavily advertised, was Consumer Brewing Company in the Huntersville section of then-Norfolk County. Consumer opened its Washington Street brew house in 1895 and advertised Bavarian beer, Elk beer, dark beer, pale beer and malt beverages, something for every palate. After Virginia went dry in November 1916, Consumer stayed afloat for a while by turning over the plant to the Virginia Fruit Juice Company, which produced a fruit beverage there from 1917 to 1921. The Consumer’s Brewing Company (later to go by many names, including the Southern Brewing Company) opened in 1895.  It operated on Washington Avenue in the Huntersville section until 1916 when Virginia voted to go dry.  (Norfolk did so reluctantly.)  The brewery reopened just after the repeal of Prohibition as the Southern Brewing Company in 1934 and operated under that name until 1942.  In 1942, Jacob Ruppert Brewing of New York purchased the facility and it operated under the name of Jacob-Ruppert-Virginia.  They purchased the name and recipe of Red Fox beer from the Largay Brewing Company of Waterbury, Connecticut and produced it until 1953, when they ceased production in Norfolk. Southern Brewing Company bought the facility in 1936, producing Southern Beer, “The Pride of the South.” It was the first brewery to open in Virginia after the repeal of the 18th amendment. Southern Breweries sold the plant to Jacob Ruppert Breweries in 1942.


Champale Products, Inc. began production here in 1953. Later a subsidiary of Iroquois Brands, Ltd., Norfolk’s was one of only two Champale Breweries in the nation. Touted as the “champagne of bottled beer,” Champale operated here until mid-February 1980.

Makers Craft Brewery opened at 23rd and Church Street, Norfolk VA 23504, in the Historic Railroad district of Norfolk in March 2018, in an old Burlap Bag manufacturing plant; located just a few blocks down from Champale Breweries. Makers’ building features the original Art Deco exterior architecture and interior brick walls, columns and ceilings including skylights popular during period. The restored windows are duplicates of the original, with many salvageable parts used in recreating the now refurbished windows. 


Restoration of the building from the start of planning took over 2 years and focused on the Brewery area, Tap Room and Emerson’s Cigar Lounge.  The one acre Beer Garden is still in renovation phase, however it is currently suitable for outdoor events, large family gatherings, festivals, and some athletic events.  The warehouse portion of the building is currently being used for storage but will eventually allow for the expansion of the brewing area as well as large private meeting rooms.  


Makers Craft Brewery is proud to carry on Norfolk’s History and tradition of Beer Manufacturing and we salute those who have come before us and those that are still yet to come in the future.  Cheers!

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