Until recently the ground bounded by the Norristown Branch of the Reading, the rear property line of the north side of Queen lane and the south side of Midvale avenue, down to Cresswell street, was a part of the Whiehle estate.
A part of the ground, which was sold some years ago to the Wardens, was occupied by a huge brewery which has become a thing of the past. It was erected in 1856, by the late Henry J. Becker, a German stone-mason, who had settled some years before in the Falls, and began to “plunge” on building operations.
The brewery, at one time the largest building in the neighborhood, stood on a point of ground known as Smith’s knoll, where Smith’s and Mifflin’s Hollows joined and formed a triangular-shaped plot with the railroad for a base. The hill was covered with blackberry bushes and small underbrush.
Becker formed a partnership with Joseph Steppacher to brew beer. Becker, a Free Mason, had a large stone set in the front of the building on which was carved the compass, square, trowel and other emblems of the order.
The underbrush was removed from the surrounding land and a saloon was opened near the railroad track, which, with dancing and other pavilions, became known as the Falls of Schylkill Park. The saloon had at one time as proprietor a man named Ritter who was of a family which has since acquired a reputation in the canning industry.
Becker did not remain long in the brewery business. It being said that he withdrew in order to save what little money he had left. Steppacher continued until the early seventies and was succeeded by the late John Hohenadel, who rented the property from the William Stoner estate. Centennial year, 1876, the greater part of the brewery was consumed by fire. Hohenadel, in an effort to save some of his valuables, had to be restrained from entering the building while the conflagration was at its height.
Before the present East Falls station was erected, the brewery had been used for years as a coal and lumber yard. The Warden estate disposed of this part of the ground, to the Reading Railroad Company as a site for the station.
The remainder of the property, including ten dwellings on Whiehle street, with the ground along the railroad and down through old Smith’s Hollow, has recently be acquired by Gottlob Steinle.