Tag Archives: Mauston Brewery

Hanneman House, Tunnel Story Appear in Breweriana Magazine

The story of the Hanneman house in Mauston and its ties to the historic Mauston Brewery was retold in a 2019 issue of Breweriana magazine. The article was written by Mauston historian Richard D. Rossin Jr., a friend of these pages.

In the brewery history magazine, Rossin tells the story of the Mauston Brewery, which operated at the corner of Morris and Winsor streets from 1868 to 1916. He also recounts the Hanneman family story of a tunnel that was said to run from the house at 22 Morris Street under Winsor Street to the former brewery site.

Rossin said when he first encountered the tunnel story, he and a group of friends rang the doorbell at the Hanneman house to ask about it. My grandmother, Ruby V. (Treutel) Hanneman (1904-1977), answered the door. She took the children back to the pantry just off the kitchen. She showed a trap door in the floor, which was slightly different in color from the surrounding floor boards. Ruby told the children the tunnel ran from a cistern beneath the pantry across the street, Rossin recalled.

The Hanneman house is shown at lower right in the brewery magazine. (Image courtesy of Richard D. Rossin Jr.)

That’s a slightly different tale than the one I recall hearing from Grandpa Carl F. Hanneman (1901-1982) and my Dad, David D. Hanneman (1933-2007). I recall as a child going down very steep stairs into the basement, where Carl had a bar. He showed us a large archway in the north wall. It was filled in with bricks. He said behind the wall was a tunnel that at one time ran across the street. I don’t remember any mention of the Mauston Brewery. According to Rossin’s research, the home across the street once owned by Dr. Samuel Hess Jr. had a beer cellar with a similar stone archway.

I recall as a child someone pulling up that trap door in the pantry and allowing us to peer down into the deep darkness of the cistern. I think we were told it had been used to store rainwater but was no longer functional. It only added to the allure of the old house, with its stained glass accent windows, four-footed bathtub and a “secret” servant’s staircase from the kitchen to the upstairs.

What we know as the Carl and Ruby Hanneman home was built around 1893 by Charles F. Miller, owner of the Mauston Brewery. Miller took full control of the brewery in 1888, according to Rossin’s article, and sold his interest in 1901. Miller and his wife Frederica had six children. Miller died in August 1907 at age 54. Mrs. Miller lived in the home for nearly two more decades. She remarried in the 1920s and sold the Morris Street property.

The Mauston Brewery was located across Winsor Street from what later became the Hanneman house.

Myrtle Price bought the house in 1932 and began renting it to Carl Hanneman in 1936. The Hannemans bought the home from the Price estate in the 1950s. They raised three children there: Donn Gene (1926-2014), David Dion and Lavonne Marie (1937-1986).

Read the full Breweriana article

The Hanneman house in Mauston, circa 1959. The little brown blur in the photo is my parents’ dog, Cookie.

Hanneman Homestead Part of Brewery Complex

An oft-repeated story told of a tunnel that ran from the basement of the Carl F. Hanneman home in Mauston under Winsor Street to the property of Dr. J. Samuel Hess Jr. A new book refutes the old tunnel story, but shows how the Hanneman home was originally part of the Mauston Brewery complex.

A book by Mauston resident Richard D. Rossin Jr. tells a fascinating story of the Mauston Brewery, which produced fine German suds at 451  Winsor Street from 1868 to 1916. The brewery operated where the former Hess home now stands, up the hill from the Lemonweir River. The home at 22 Morris Street was built by then brewery owner Charles F. Miler around 1893.

There have been many variants of the tunnel story. One tale said that the tunnel was used during Prohibition to secretly move moonshine from the old brewery across the street for distribution. Another was that the tunnel was used by Charles Miller to get to work in bad weather.

A plat map shows the location of the Mauston Brewery in relation to homes on Morris and Winsor Streets.
A plat map shows the location of the Mauston Brewery in relation to homes on Morris and Winsor Streets.

The late Juneau County historian Merton Eberlein, who lived at 27 Morris Street, once wrote that the tunnel story was a myth. “My home has been on the corner of Winsor and Morris since 1904 and I believe I am capable of saying, ‘It ain’t so,’ ” the book quotes Eberlein as saying. “If a tunnel existed, I certainly would have been aware of it, as I knew every nook and cranny of both the Hanneman home and the old brewery.” Eberlein and his father both worked in the brewery.

Rossin recounts visiting the Hanneman home in the 1970s and asking Ruby Hanneman to show him where the tunnel was. She led him into the pantry on the south side of the kitchen and showed him a trap door that led down to a large cistern.

Many of Carl and Ruby Hanneman’s grandchildren might remember a different location for the entrance to the tunnel. On the west side of the kitchen was a doorway and staircase that led to the basement of the home. On the north wall of the basement was a large archway, similar to those found in the basement under the Hess home. The arch had been bricked over at some point. The bricks that filled in the archway did not match those of the arch, or the large limestone blocks that made up the foundation.

This Sunburn fire map shows the various structures that made up the Mauston Brewery.
This Sunburn fire map shows the various structures that made up the Mauston Brewery.

Eberlein said the tunnel would have been impossible, since a ridge of hard blue sandstone ran down the center under Winsor Street. When city water was installed around 1915, three contractors tried to blast through the rock along the street with no luck, Eberlein wrote.

There is an explanation for the archway, even if it wasn’t the tunnel of family lore. Charles Miller might have had his own brew cellar, similar to those built underneath the brewery. The book has photographs of the brew cellars that still exist under the old Hess home, which was built on the brewery foundation in 1928. A brew cellar would not have extended anywhere near Winsor Street, yet would have been big enough to hold Miller’s own personal stock of beer or other beverages.

Such a feature would not have been unheard of for the owner of a brewery. We know there is a large cistern built under the south side of the property. There was also a well drilled just to the left of the back porch, according to a hand-drawn property map left behind by Charles Miller’s widow, Frederica Miller Sheridan. She said the well was 22 feet deep. A stone was placed over the well casing when it was decommissioned. “When Miller had it built, he had all the best materials put in the house, even the cellar,” Mrs. Miller wrote.

According to Eberlein, the Millers drew water from the cistern via a pump to use in their laundry, which was located in what was later the pantry. A butlery was located just off the kitchen, used for serving the table in the dining room. The huge stone blocks used to build the basement were hewn at the quarry at Lemonweir Mills. 

The Mauston Brewery remains an interesting part of city history.
The Mauston Brewery remains an interesting part of early city history.

According to plat maps detailed in the book, there was once a bottling house located northeast of the Miller home. The bottling house had to be located across the street from the brewery, as brewery regulations prohibited bottling operations on brewery property. So beer was put in barrels, taxed, and then moved to the bottling works near the Miller house.

Myrtle Price bought the Miller house in 1932 and made extensive changes to the inside. Carl Hanneman rented the home from Mrs. Price for 11 years until her death in 1947. He continued making rent payments to her estate before purchasing the home in the 1950s. Mrs. Price was the widow of Clinton G. Price, the Juneau County district attorney who was assassinated in their home in April 1930.

The old Hanneman home is again for sale, with a listing price of $117,000. The Carl F. Hanneman estate sold the home for $18,000 in the early 1980s. The house has been completely renovated with maplewood floors, a new kitchen and a permanent addition where the back porch had been.

Rossin’s book is a fascinating piece of Mauston history, with significant references to the Hanneman family. The book costs $15 including shipping. You can send payment to: Richard D. Rossin Jr.,  P.O. Box 34, Mauston, WI 53948. Rossin can also be reached by e-mail.

— This post has been updated with additional images.

©2014 The Hanneman Archive