The smokestack at The Brewery complex, a local landmark that towers a hundred feet over the Brookside neighborhood, is undergoing a $230,000 fix-up. The work will include replacing the top 25 feet, which was recently removed due to fears it might crumble.
The goal is to have work done by March, when Bella Luna Resturant and Milky Way Lounge is slated to move into the Brewery. Bella Luna plans to have an outdoor seating area dramatically placed right around the base of the smokestack.
The Brewery was built in the late 1800s as the Haffenreffer beer brewery. By 1965, it was abandoned. The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC), a nonprofit developer and community-organizing group, bought the complex in 1979. The intent was to create jobs by renovating the 5-acre site into a small business complex.
Today, many businesses and organizations operate there. Boston Beer Company, the makers of Samuel Adams beer, is the most famous tenant. JPNDC is also headquartered there.
The last phase of renovation is the space Bella Luna and a children’s restaurant/play space called Pandamonium will occupy. That work forced another look at the historic smokestack, according to Andy Waxman, JPNDC’s director of commercial development.
The smokestack, built of yellow terra cotta bricks, originally spelled out the “Haffenreffer” brand name in vertical letters of darker brick. The top half of the smokestack was demolished in the 1980s for safety reasons, so today it only spells out, “Reffer.”
The smokestack no longer functions. That is part of the reason it is hard to preserve, because the lack of hot fumes allows freezing-and-thawing cycles to pull the bricks apart, Waxman said.
JPNDC restored the lower portion of the smokestack five years ago, Waxman said. Restoring the rest of the surviving part has “long been something we felt we needed to do,” Waxman said.
But the work became necessary when it was clear that renovations of the building below could shake bricks loose, Waxman said. JPNDC removed the unstable top portion in July. Next it will restore the remaining 90 feet of yellow terra cotta, then rebuild the recently demolished 25-foot top. A small amount of salvaged terra cotta will be used in the reconstruction of the top part, Waxman said.
The Boston Landmarks Commission last month unanimously supported the reconstruction plan. The Brewery Complex, including the smokestack, is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The expensive work will be funded with historic tax credits, Waxman said. “For a shallow-pocketed nonprofit, it’s a hit,” he said.