Steeped In History
Our Roots Run Deep.
Located in quaint Washington, Missouri, the Historic John B. Busch Brewery was established as the Washington Brewery in 1855 by German immigrants Fred Gersie and brothers John and Henry Busch. John was the older brother of Adolphus Busch, the co-founder of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, located in St. Louis. The Brewery grew to become the largest in the city and operated until 1953. The complex that houses the Brewery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and shares grounds with the Busch Mansion, constructed in 1855 by John Busch. The mansion is now the location of the Max W. Mueller Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 2661.
Born in Germany in 1832, John Baptiste Busch immigrated to the United States at 17 years old. Before attending college in both Missouri and Illinois, John learned the ropes of the brewing business alongside several family members while working at the Busch Brewery, established by his brother George in 1848 in the bustling city of St. Louis, Missouri. After time, Adophus founded Anheuser-Busch with his father-in-law, leaving John the sole owner. John and his wife, Antonia, worked side by side and parented seven children who survived into adulthood.
With the passing of the Eighteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, which established the prohibition of alcohol in the US, the Brewery stopped producing alcohol in 1918. In an effort to continue operations, the facility began producing ice, soda water, and potato chips. After the 1933 repeal of Prohibition, the Brewery became a bottler for Budweiser beer.
John lived until the age of 62, passing in 1894. His son, John Busch, Jr., ran the business until his death in 1937. John Jr.'s son, Ulrich, continued operations until closing in 1953. After that time, the building was rented by the Missouri Meerschaum Company, a Washington, Missouri producer of corn cob pipes which used it as a storage space. In 1988, the Brewery was converted to retail, restaurant, and office spaces.
Larry "Cowboy" Proemsey and Angie Holmes purchased the building in 2018 and began restoring it to its former glory. Now The Historic John B. Busch Brewery Event Center is the perfect place to host your wedding, reception, gala, reunion, shower, corporate event, or photoshoot. With rustic character and elegant charm, the center offers the Barrel Room that holds 300 people for large gatherings. In addition to the main hall, The Speakeasy and Buddy's Bootleggers Hideout offer a more intimate setting, each of which holds 80 people. For a wedding of up to 150 guests, you can hold your ceremony in The Cellar, then move right into Buddy's Bootleggers Hideout for the reception. Each space has a private bar, designated ice machine, and custom designed bathrooms. The hidden vignettes and historic grounds offer that perfect photo opportunity.
Are There Spirits About?
It has been said by some that we have a few spirits at The Historic John B. Busch Brewery, and we don't mean the kind you add to a drink. According to Karen Cernich, Feature Editor of the Missourian, in an article from October 2011, Tales of a True Ghost Hunter, Dan "Spookstalker" Terry, had some interesting experiences while ghost hunting at the event .
“In my experience,” Terry writes, “the Washington Brewery is the happiest haunted place along the Missouri River.”
"The ghosts there have made their presence known in more ways than one — setting off the KII electromagnetic field detector, crossing a pair of dowsing rods in response to yes and no questions, “speaking” through an ovilus device . . . But the most convincing for Terry was when he felt a spirit touch his wrist.
“Suddenly, I felt my hand being grabbed, with an invisible thumb on top and the fingers under the hand. It was not the cold touch of death, nor the warm feeling of a human hand — only pressure from someone grabbing my right hand,” he writes in the chapter on the Missouri River in Washington.
All of Terry’s encounters with the spirits at the Brewery have been benign. Nothing has ever been scary or dangerous.
“The ghosts at the brewery have so much fun,” he remarked. “They like to play with us.”
In the book, Terry notes that once during an investigation at the brewery, the spirit of Fred Gersie said he was “waiting for the fun to begin.”
While we have never been approached by any spirits, if you are open to such a thing, perhaps you will have an extra guest or two at your event!