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History Made Tangible

Jun 23, 2015

When Hotel Emma’s initial architecture team explored the Brewhouse in 2002, it was like entering an ancient site, rediscovered. Business correspondence, coffee cups and filled ashtrays sat on office desks, a Pearl cap hung in a worker’s long-abandoned locker, almost like the crew had just walked out the door.

So, the team approached the site like archeologists, removing thousands of artifacts layer by layer, labeling, documenting and storing in a warehouse designated for the purpose of preserving everything… from memos found in file cabinets to a 1925 delivery truck, now fully restored. Careful “excavation” through history’s strata revealed an imprint of a 19th century German-language newspaper beneath the lobby’s tile floor, grain still in the brewery’s mill, and dusty dioramas portraying the life and times of Judge Roy Bean, now being restored for display near Larder, Emma’s fine foods purveyor.

When you visit Hotel Emma you’ll see industrial artifacts respectfully and sometimes whimsically incorporated into graciously designed spaces. A suite’s ceiling is the bottom of a cast-iron hopper, an early 20th century compressor has been retired to the lobby, and solid bronze industrial gadgets are repurposed as lighting fixtures. The brewery’s tangible history is taking on new life at Hotel Emma.

Photography by Scott Martin.

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