$250k for buildings & 2 acres of land
Over 150 years of history in a small town just over an hour from Chicago.
Back in 1996 or 1997 was when I first came across the old Gebhard Brewery in Morris, Grundy County, Illinois, the place was a mess over overgrown landscape and broken windows. It’s the kind of place I’m still shocked hasn’t seen a demolition permit.
However here it is almost 25 years later and whether it’s through luck or the steadfast determination of the local leaders, the old Gebhard Brewery is still standing and ready for someone to take it over.
Of course it’s not exactly what one would call “turn key ready.”
The property has had its ups and downs over the years. According to an article from an area newspaper the building has seen time as a flour mill, light fixture manufacturer and has sat pretty much vacant since the early 1990s. The story also talks about the three generations of Gebhards that ran the popular brewery and how prohibition ended its run, a history dating back to the 1860s.
As of November of 2020 the building was listed as being for sale on the town’s economic development page with a price of $250,000. The listing includes little detail about the property’s physical plant, but does mention it sits on over 2 acres of land. While it’s hard to believe the larger of the two buildings are not part of that 2 acres, don’t start drawing up your brewery/bed & breakfast/event space plans just yet. (I have reached out to the real estate agent for the property, but haven’t heard back).
The location of the building is has all sorts of pluses. Just 4 blocks from the primary street of the business district, it’s a quick walk from there and the nearby bike & hiking trail along the Illinois & Michigan Canal. Being the county seat of Grundy County, the courthouse brings in lots of people to Morris and unlike some towns its size (15,000 people) it’s still has a fairly vibrant town center.
Maybe a bigger benefit is the town’s proximity to future customers and distribution. Located 15 miles from where Interstate 55 & 80 intersect, the area is filled with distribution hubs for retail and shipping companies. With nearby Joliet and the surrounding towns home to over 320,000 people, and downtown Chicago a 63 mile drive, this small town location has a rural appeal with many of the urban benefits.
The dreamer in me sees a brewery going back in here, with a store event space in the second smaller building. Ironically with 2 acres you’d think parking wouldn’t be an issue, but some of it may include a hill and small stream.
NOTE: I will be updating this post as more information comes in. I’ve been told even while writing this that the property had sold back in February 2020, but is back on the market. As I mention before, I’m unsure if it has been split into parcels, or is selling as a whole. Either way it’s nice to dream about rehabbing a small town brewery.