Merchant’s Ice Tower: Empty and Haunted?

Now a seemingly decaying structure, the Merchant’s Ice Tower is located in Louisville, Kentucky’s Smoketown neighborhood. Once a huge historic site now loses brick veneers occasionally, turning it into an eyesore to the surrounding community. And demolition seems imminent. However, what happened to it? Is it haunted? Here, we analyze its history and some possible reasons for its abandonment.

The History of Merchant’s Ice Tower

The 13-stories tall Merchant Ice Tower was originally a brewing company founded by John Zeller in 1861. In 1881, Charles A. Schaefer and Adolph Meyer took over before it was re-incorporated as the Schaefer-Meyer Brewing Company in 1889. The business was booming when it started, selling over 50,000 barrels per year. This prompted the management to combine with several other companies under the name Central Consumer Company, leading to the birth of Fehr Beer. By 1919, the brewing company was easily the biggest one in the Southern Region of the United States, covering over two million square feet.

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Challenges Faced by the Brewing Company

As the business grew, some locals started to experience widespread criticism, especially the pietistic protestants-led prohibitionists. They argued that alcohol contributed to the rising cases of saloon-based political corruption and family violence. As a result, the communists nationwide laid harsh alcohol prohibition measures, a stance supported by the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union at the grass-root levels.

Any attempts to oppose the prohibition were met with other unfortunate events. For instance, when the Catholic and German Lutheran communities tried to fight the measures against alcohol consumption, the First World War started, leading to more state-wide alcohol prohibition laws.

How the Brewing Company Adapted to the Hostility

Since the fight against alcohol prohibition in the country wasn’t going anywhere, the Frank Fehr Brewing Company decided to convert one of its facilities into cold storage. With the help of designer Walter W. Ahlschlager of Chicago and the Alfred Struck Company, the brewing company constructed a 13-story concrete tower, which cost $1,000,000. A further $75,000 was used to remodel the remaining buildings.

It goes without saying that these investments had to work for the company to survive. To some extent, they did. Following the facility’s conversion into a storage room, Kentucky voters approved a state constitutional amendment that saw the ban on the sale and distribution of alcohol in the country lifted. However, the brewing company soon went bankrupt, leading to its abandonment.

Is the Merchant’s Ice Tower Empty and Haunted?

There is no substantial proof indicating that the location is haunted. However, it is empty, and with bricks falling off occasionally, it is an eyesore for the locals. Since its abandonment, some people have tried to renew it. In 2006, investors wanted to turn the facility into a mixture of retail and residential places, but the plan did not materialize. In 2010, there were plans to remodel it into lovely senior living and condominium buildings, but that too did not come to pass. Today, the tower still lies abandoned.

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