Featured here is a beautiful tin lithographic sign featuring a semi-naked woman admiring a butterfly which has landed on her hand near a small brook. This sign advertises a very-well known local New York City area, mostly known for it’s nickname, The R&H Brewery. This brewery was a well known brewery and their flagship R&H Pilsener beer was one of the cities best selling brands for years!
In 1870 two German immigrants named Joseph Rubsam and August Horrmann bought the Atlantic Brewery and formed the Rubsam & Horrmann Brewing Company in Stapleton, which is part of Staten Island N.Y. Sadly on March 21, 1878 it burned, along with the adjoining residences, in what is still one of the biggest fires in Staten Island’s history. However the owners quickly rebuilt the burgeoning business and it flourished and grew even bigger. Eventually the R&H Brewery as it was called became the largest brewery on Staten Island, where a small group of breweries operated around the Stapleton area.
One of the owners, Joseph Rubsam died October 21 1890, and his share of the business went to his wife, and eventually to his adopted daughter. The estate was valued at $100,000 in 1896 when Joseph’s widow, Emily died. Accordingly, the Rubsam family was one of the wealthiest families on Staten Island at that time. Even with the death of one of the owners, the brewery continued on and was only stopped by the introduction of the Volstead Act (Prohibition) which shuttered the business in 1920.
In 1931 the brewery was locked up by the police when it was caught producing beer inside while prohibition was still in effect. However, when prohibition ended the R&H brewery was once again producing beer in a then competitive New York City metropolitan market. However, the company started to lose market share to the competition, and the nickname “Rotten & Horrible” certainly didn’t help the R&H brand to sell.
Finally in 1953 the Piels brewery located in NYC bought out the R&H Brewery and the brands were discontinued a few years after. The end was sad considering the brewery once employed 350 people at its peak, a substantial number for a brewery in the early 1900’s.
The last remaining buildings from the old brewery were removed in the early 2000’s and were replaced by new townhouses. The location of the brewery was at the intersection of Vanduzer and Broad Street’s. There are still lagering caves below the ground in this area from the old brewery, but they are not able to be accessed by the general public.