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Pullman and Argus Brewery

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This past weekend Julie and I once again took part in the CAF’s Open House Chicago and headed down to the Pullman neighborhood. Pullman is a former company town built by George Pullman to house the employees of the Pullman Palace Car Company. The town of Pullman was built in the late 1880’s and is known for it’s historic Victorian row houses.

Historic Pullman Center
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Our first stop in Pullman was the Historic Pullman Center which used to be the Masonic Pullman Palace Lodge. The Center currently houses all of the salvaged furnishings from the Hotel Florence and various pieces from George Pullman’s Prairie Avenue Mansion.

Greenstone United Methodist Church
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From there we walked a couple of blocks to the Greenstone United Methodist Church. The exterior of the church is a façade of green stone that was quarried from Pennsylvania and shipped to Pullman. The Church sanctuary is original to the 1880’s including the pews and organ.

Hotel Florence
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Across from the Arcade Park and not far from the church is the Hotel Florence. The hotel served the town/company of Pullman as a destination for businessmen and groups visiting the town, and was named for Pullman’s daughter Florence. I believe it also housed the only bar in Pullman. The hotel is currently shuttered and undergoing renovations. There was talk about reopening the bar.

Pullman Factory Complex
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What remains of the Pullman Factory Complex after a fire in 1998 is still pretty impressive. The scale of the remaining buildings and the grounds gives a good impression of what 6,000 workers would have experienced on a daily basis.

Argus Brewery
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After our stops in Pullman we took a brewery tour at the Argus Brewery which sits just outside Pullman on the other side of the train tracks. This was by far the best brewery tour I’ve ever been on and I highly recommend it. As soon as we arrived we were handed a beer and then Argus’ Brewery Historian took us outside the building to explain the area. The brewery sits on what was once called Shlitz Row after the Shlitz Brewing Company purchased the entire block to serve beer to the Pullman workers. George Pullman made sure that his town was completely dry outside of the Hotel Florence so the Shlitz company setup shop just outside the town. The Argus Brewery is housed in the former stable house for the Shlitz operation. After taking in the street scene we went up to the top floor of the brewery where all of the fermentation tanks are held along with a bar. Since the building was a horse stable previously, the 2nd floor is structurally sound and there was even a horse elevator. The majority of the ‘tour’ consisted of us hanging out in the bar with free reign over the taps. The brewers also provided us with pizza that is made from their spent grains and we basically were give a history tour of the place. After several beers and quality stories we were showed through the actual brewing and bottling process before we were sent on our way.

Really one of the best tours I’ve taken.

Side Notes:
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* We had breakfast at the Cal-Harbour Restaurant & Lounge. There really weren’t many options in the area but this is a legit diner.
** We actually saw the Brewery and the Pullman Factory from the train on our way to the Gary Railcats game. That’s how we knew to book the brewery tour.
*** Previous CAF Open House Chicago: 2012