The story of a forgotten America.

Schmulbach Brewery

Schmulbach Brewery is a former brewery in Wheeling, West Virginia. It was once an integral part of the city’s rich German heritage.


Nail City Brewing Company was formed in 1861 by Frank Zeigler at 33rd and Wetzel Street in Wheeling. 4 5  It included several cellars for the beer, some 400 feet in length, and a much smaller fermentation cellar, that were dug into the adjoining hillside. 5 Two-inch pipes made it possible to cool 60 barrels per hour with water sourced from an adjacent spring. Nail City was listed on the stock exchange in 1873 and by the 1880s, the brewery sold between 7,000 and 8,000 barrels per year. 5

Henry Schmulbach acquired the majority of shares in Nail City in 1881 and took ownership of the company in January 1882, which was renamed to Schmulbach Brewing Company. 3 4 It sold beer under the Schmulbach and Nail City brands because of brand recognition. 3 Schmulbach, born in Germany in 1844, emigrated to the United States with his family to Wheeling at the age of eight. 3 He worked on packet boats as a teenager and as a clerk at a wholesale grocery during the Civil War before becoming employed in the wholesale liquor trade in 1867. 2

Modern equipment was installed in 1883, which increased the capacity of production to 50,000 barrels annually. 6 By 1890, the capacity had been increased to 200,000 barrels per year. A new bottling plant was added in 1899. By the early 20th century, Schmulbach had become one of the largest breweries in the state; it also operated the state’s largest ice plant which was integral to the brewing process. 4

Schmulbach renovated Mozart Park into a beer garden, which was accessible from a self-funded incline from 44th Street to the park and a streetcar from Caldwell’s Run. 2 He was also instrumental in constructing the 12-story Schmulbach Building in 1907.

Schmulbach retired to his estate at Roney’s Point in 1913, which featured a conservatory and rooms decorated with hand-made wallpaper imported from France. 1 (The mansion later became home to the Ohio County poor farm and a tuberculosis sanitarium before it was destroyed in a fire in 1975. 2)

The Schmulbach Brewing Company was forced to close in July 1914 after the state passed Yost’s Law. 1 3 During World War II, the caves and cellars that extended from the former brewery were once considered the site of an air-raid shelter for the city. 4 In 1978, Miller Brewing Company considered reusing the building. 1



  1. Hoffmann, Joe. “Lager-Lapping Land.” News-Register [Wheeling] 29 Oct. 1978: n. pag. Print.
  2. Comins, Linda. “Brewer Causes Brouhaha.” News-Register [Wheeling] 23 Aug. 2009: n. pag. Print.
  3. “Breweries of the 1800s.” Valley Magazine Nov. 2005: 25. Print.
  4. “Ancient cellars once used to store beer may serve Wheeling as air raid shelters.” News-Register [Wheeling] 8 Feb. 1942: n. pag. Print.
  5. J. H. Newton. History of the Pan-Handle, Wheeling, J.A. Caldwell, 1879.
  6. Doughty, Albert, Jr. “Wheeling Breweries.” Huntington Beer. N.p., 2010. Web. 18 Dec. 2010. Article.


Add Yours →

I have a brown shmulbach bottle with emblem that says wheeling va not wva was it before we became a state in 1863?

I am looking to find a large abandoned factory like this one to turn into housing for the homeless. How would I find out if they are interested in selling it.

I have a wooden beer case with the name Schmulbach on the front and a co. emblen on each side. It has heavy metel hinges. It has been in my pocession for about forty years.
Would like to know when it was made.


My father lived next door to HS when growing up. He was named after HS and I have since named my son after my father. So, I have a son named after HS. I would be intersted in communicating with you just for some historical interests. My e-mail is


@Sherman: Sorry that I didn't see your request before now. I actually got my copy of the magazine at Taylor's Books in Charleston, WV. They have a website from which you may be able to order a winter magazine at They're really great pictures. I am sure you will enjoy them.

i'm related to hen schmulbach through his wife…

do you have any photos of the home at romney point?

by mother use to visit the old aunt pauline there……..

While walking along the trail by the river in Wheeling, I saw some broken glass on a hillside and unearthed a broken piece of a Schmulbach bottle,very thick glass,jagged edges,but it had the Schmulbach logo intact! What a find!

In the current In Wheeling magazine (winter 2011) there are some wonderful pictures of the heads sculpted into the building. In fact, the magazine's cover features a viking head from the building. There is a poster of these heads on the building that is sold in Wheeling. They are covered in rust and soot and are just strikingly beautiful. I am not from Wheeling, but I love the city and its architecture. How I wish it could experience an economic revival and be polished up as the historical gem that it is. Thanks for the stories on Wheeling and its breweries!

Leave your comment!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Introducing the new 2024 Abandoned Kentucky calendar, a captivating journey through the hidden gems of the Bluegrass State.