By Peter Nuttall
Living In The Ledge staff reporter
Grand Ledge’s former City Hall at the corner of East Jefferson and Taylor streets is getting a makeover.
The building that was once known as the headquarters of Grand Ledge’s administration and City Council will now be the place of a new establishment called BrickHaven Brewing Company.
Brothers Ed and Ben Huston purchased the property a couple months ago. Together they’ve been working with the Grand Ledge government to get the brewery up and running as soon as possible.
“It’s going to bring in more people and vitalize the downtown in an additional way,” Grand Ledge Mayor Kalmin Smith said. “We’re excited for the build.”
The building the Huston’s bought, located at 200 E. Jefferson St., has a vast history behind it. Built in 1937, the building served as city hall from 1970 to January of 2014. Before 1970, it was St. Michael Parish.
“My husband and I are very excited for the brewery. We’re beer connoisseurs,” Grand Ledge resident Celeste Gray said. “My children were actually even baptized in that building.”
According to Kalmin Smith, some of the remnants of St. Michael Parish will even be used as decor in the new brewery.
“I believe that when the restoration is done, it will expose stained glass that’s currently in there,” Kalmin Smith said. “I think it’s going to be beautiful.”
The building also contains beautiful gold leaf alpha and omega Greek letters on the back wall that, according to Ben Huston, illuminate when light hits them. He says they definitely plan to keep those.
“They feel appropriate,” he said. “They’re not too religious. Just a good message. There’s a beginning. There’s an end. It was a pleasant surprise to find.”
The theme Ben Huston and his brother want to offer is comfort. They want an atmosphere that’s centered around friends, family, and community.
“The roads in front of our building go 30 mph,” he said. “We’re going to have something similar in here. It’s not a highway really at 70 mph, it’s a nice and slow community.”
BrickHaven Brewing Company will be a place people can come and enjoy some excellent craft beer. Ben Huston says his brother makes a fantastic coffee stout. They’ll also offer food as well. As of right now, they’ll offer sandwiches and appetizers. Ben Huston says that one day he would love to offer pizza made in a wood-fired oven.
That day is what seems ways away however. Ben Huston and his friend, Eddie, just started renovating a couple weeks ago. They haven’t been the only ones helping though. They’ve been using locals for help with the renovations.
“Most of our guys have literally walked by the building and said, ‘I live right there and can I do that job?’” Ben Huston said. “I can’t say no to that.”
The building needs a lot of work done because it had been vacant for about a year. According to Ben Huston, they were close to losing the building altogether.
“It was in a state that needed attention immediately,” he said. “We wanted to stop that decay the second we took over.”
Ben Huston confirmed that the building went on the market a year ago and was listed at a value of $150,000. They bought it this year for only $50,000.
City Administrator Adam Smith said there were a lot of things that went into the final price of the building. Some of those factors were market response to the property, ongoing maintenance expenses, diversity in downtown business, placing the property back on the tax roll, and providing a redevelopment incentive upfront.
“BrickHaven will add the craft brewing industry component to our greater Grand Ledge economy,” Adam Smith said. “I think BrickHaven will be a great compliment to our existing downtown businesses.”
Ben Huston has seen first hand that the community is excited for BrickHaven to open. He says that people poke their heads in all the time and see how they’re doing. Moms and dads walking with their children will ask when they’ll be able to stop in. A woman who walks her dog by there sometimes has even offered him any leftovers, if she has any.
“It’s new, so it’s interesting,” Gray said. “It’ll be nice to have a brewery right down the street.”
Ben Huston believes that they’ll be able to open up the brewery next spring, though Ed believes it will be next summer. Either way, Kalmin Smith says the citizens are antsy to get a taste of the brother’s craft beer.
“I’ve received a number of comments from people wishing they didn’t take so long,” he said. “People are looking forward to it.”