You may know of Conrad Seipp and his 1888 summer cottage on Geneva Lake…Black Point Estate and Gardens. After four generations enjoyed their summers on Geneva Lake, the family donated the property to the State of Wisconsin; it’s open for tours hosted by the Wisconsin Historical Society.
The Seipp family is not the only Geneva Lake family that is connected to beer (just the one open for tours!) To learn more about the “beer legacy” of Geneva Lake, join the Black Point staff for a beer tasting tour of the lake and Black Point Estate on July 20 or August 17th—go to the events page on blackpointestate.org for details.
Seipp was the largest brewer in Chicago for 30 years…and the largest in the U.S. for one year (1873) with many popular brands (Salvator, Columbia, Hollander, Pale Ale, etc.)
The Seipp family was associated with at least three estates on the lake…the Lindens on the south shore is owned by the Madlener side of the family…and related to the Blatz family.
A son-in-law, Theis Lefens had an estate on the south shore, too. He was Secretary and Treasurer of Seipp’s Brewery, and president of the United States Brewers’ Association in 1889-90.
The first establishment connected to Chicago beer was the Pishcotaqua Hotel on the north shore, near Williams Bay and Knollwood. The hotel pre-dated the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island by 7 years, and was of the same luxurious style, built as a temperance hotel…but unsuccessful for the first few years, until John Cook bought it. He was the owner of the Union Brewing Company in Chicago. The remaining building is now known as Ara Glen.
The complex known as Forest Glen, and Villa Palatina (near Fontana), was owned by two Chicago brewers: George Weiss sold his estate to Edward Uihlein in 1899. Edward operated the Chicago branch for Schlitz. Fire destroyed the house in 1922, and the area was subdivided.
The Fairlawn mansion still exists…it was in the Wacker family until 1975. Charles Wacker and his father were in the malting and brewing business. Known for Wacker Drive, Charles was instrumental in implementing Burnham’s Chicago Plan…which gave us Chicago’s lakefront parks, Soldier Field, Shedd Aquarium, etc.
Ceylon Court, renamed for the Maytag family when they purchased the property has another beer connection. Fritz Maytag, often called the father of craft brewing, bought Anchor Steam Brewing in San Francisco in 1965. His grandfather was the last Maytag to own property on Geneva Lake.
So Seipp was the largest brewer on the lake at one time…but there are connections to Blatz, Schlitz, and Anchor Steam beer as well as connections with Wacker and John Cook. Join Black Point staff on July 20 or August 17 to learn more of the beer story of Geneva Lake…and sample some great beers while you tour Black Point Estate and Gardens!
By Michael Rehberg