NEW ULM -?It has been a 20-year labor of love for Dave Harmening. In 1993 he purchased the old, crumbling Hauenstein brewery building in New Ulm, and started the process of cleaning up and restoring the historic New Ulm landmark.
The brewery was founded in 1864 by John Hauenstein, a Bavarian-born cooper (barrel-maker) and brewer, who started with a partner, Andrew Betz, but owned the brewery outright since 1869.
The brewery was destroyed by a tornado in 1881, but the brewery's stock of beer, stored underground, was safe, and the building was rebuilt.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
David Harmening stands in front of the Haunstein Brewery building that he lives in in New Ulm. Below, in a 1994 file photo, Harmening struck a similar pose a year after purchasing the old brewery building.
The brewery was owned by Hauenstein family members and operated until 1969, when it ceased production and sold its name, trademark and recipe to Grain Belt in Minneapolis. Coincidentally, the Grain Belt label was purchased in recent years by the August Schell brewery here in New Ulm.
The brewery started to crumble soon after the sale to Grain?Belt, and in parts of the building were deemed unsafe and razed in 1971.
Harmening moved to New Ulm in 1974, where he worked for New Ulm Telecom. In 1994, he said he purchased the remaining building, the washhouse and fermenting room because he is a preservationist, who admired the building.
Harmening spent thousands of dollars and many hours to clean up old demolition debris, and layers of pigeon dung six-inches deep.
Harmening converted the building to a residence, and has been living there ever since.
"I?have two residential areas, and a lot of storage space," Harmening said.
Harmening has held open houses in the past, and will host another one next weekend, in honor of his 20th year in the brewery.