The 415 Grand History Series
As one stands at the top of Grand Avenue, it is hard to miss the cluster of historic buildings that stand between Spruce and Maple Avenues. Most prominent, of course, is South San Francisco’s City Hall, which sits atop a grassy hill and is flanked by the smaller, but just as ornate, library. However, towering over a string of storefronts is a large, red brick building - 415 Grand. As one of the oldest buildings in South City, 415 Grand has a certain mystique to it. It has been used as a Fraternal Hall, as a furniture store, and as an office building, but it is rumored that the mob operated out of the basement and that it was even used as a speakeasy during Prohibition (coincidence that Armstrong Brewing is in the basement? You decide). It may even be haunted!
In 1908, several South San Francisco leaders met in the home of W.C. Schneider to form the Fraternal Hall Association, and they pledged to raise $25,000 to build the city’s first Fraternal Hall - 415 Grand Avenue. It would take a decade for the association to raise the needed funds, and in February 1918, as World War I was winding down, ground was broken on the South San Francisco Fraternal Hall, located directly across the street from where City Hall would be built two years later.
In the last century, the building has undergone many renovations and it has been shrouded in mystery and urban legend. As a result, the Armstrong team has been busy digging through archival documents and photos to better understand the history of this historic building.
Over the next few months, we will be launching a series of blogposts capturing different stories and phases of this amazing building, from its construction in the early 20th century to its commercial use in the new millennium. South City has a rich and proud history, and as South San Francisco librarian, Eva Martinez noted, 415 Grand was at “the center of it all.”
Stay tuned as we continue our research, and in the meantime, come on down to our taproom at 415 Grand, grab a pint, peruse our collection of historic South City photos, and become part of this building’s historic saga.
About Armstrong Brewing Company
Armstrong Brewing Company was South San Francisco’s first post-prohibition brewery, making it the oldest brewery in town. Located on Grand Avenue in the historic downtown district, the brewery and adjoining taproom are steeped in the history and ethos of South San Francisco - The Industrial City. Industrious and innovative, Armstrong Brewing designed and built a one-of-a-kind brewing system and strives for the impossible beer: truly balanced, always interesting and never boring. The 16 taps are ever-rotating with small-batch, handcrafted beer - sometimes barrel aged or kettle soured, other times simply experimental. Come enjoy.
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