Highland, Illinois and the Schott Brewery

Highland, Illinois is an interesting town, located east of St. Louis in a part of the state that was settled early and Chicago was still a small town. It is around 10,000 people, and sits right on major rail lines and Interstate 70.

Settled by Germans originally, there is still a strong influence in the architecture and some of the businesses. Of particular interest is the old Schott Brewery, whose architecture mirrors that of many St. Louis breweries.

The history of the Schott Brewery is well-documented, and you can read its story here. In the fall of 2019, the Belleville News-Democrat reported that Highland city officials were struggling with what to do with the historic brewery, as the non-profit owner had seemingly disappeared.

Supposedly this tallest building in the complex is the old malt house, but I doubt that; it is probably a stock house, which would be consistent with the height of other tall brewery buildings in St. Louis.

The brew house or malt house are probably the shorter buildings on either side of the stock house.

There was some sort of museum in the brewery in the last couple of decades, but it has closed, and the buildings are now in a state of abandonment.

The lagering cellars were dug out of the hillside, and the Schott family lived in houses that went east up the street. Apparently there were originally passageways from the houses to the cellars, which is a common story that has not been proven in St. Louis breweries. The Lemps, for example never had a passageway from their house to the brewery.

The old Schott houses are in good condition and show the wealth the brewery provided to its owners before Prohibition.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Gabe Dimig says:

    I live in highland, it’s a small town but it has a lot of history. My friend, his brother, and I have actually found a way into the brewery, yesterday day to be exact. It was around 60* outside but I would say it was about 40*-35* when we went in. My friend’s brother was to scared to go in so we just told him to look out side. We only went into a small room because it was dark and we had no flashlight. There was just a bunch of planks and shelves. There was a propped door on the wall to but before we could explore further we had to go, there was a car going by slowly watching us so ya. My friends and I are thinking of going there again, and bringing a flashlight this time. I’ll report back once we go to get more information.

  2. Bob Tichacek says:

    My Aunt Babe and Uncle Floyd – along with Cousins Brad, Mary Kay, and Patty – lived in the White Schott Home in the ‘50s and into the 60s. My father had lived and gone to High School (Saint Paul’s) as his family had moved to Highland to work in one of the shoe factories that the town was noted for My Aunt/Uncle and Cousins always insisted that there was a tunnel – albeit sealed – that went under the street into the brewery. Although born in St. Louis, my family moved to Richmond, Virginia when I was Six years old. Family vacations for a few years consisted of traveling ‘back home’ and visiting family in both Hig(land and St. Louis. During the Summer between my Junior and Senior years in High School I hitchhiked with a buddy to Highland from Virginia; cousin Mary Kay introduced us to the ‘happening’ social scene centered around us ‘now big enough – and solo enough – for BIG trouble…. Hit rods, illicit beer, and all those beautiful (and kissable) Highland girls!! I was in ‘Teenage Heaven’!

    1. cnaffziger says:

      There are in fact lagering tunnels deep under the brewery and street!

  3. Andrew Causey says:

    Very interesting and a good read! However, the existence of the tunnel that connects Lemp brewery with Lemp mansion, as well as many large underground caverns and storage cellars, has never been in dispute as it’s been photographed and many tours used to take visitors down into it until it became a liability for the owners.

  4. Elizabeth McReynolds says:


    My name is Elizabeth McReynolds and I currently live in the 3rd Schott home. It isn’t really featured in the photographs. I can confirm the tunnels do exist. My home is the only one with access to them. The main cavern is used daily by my family.

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