When I was working at The Filson Historical Society I cataloged many collections dealing with the distilling industry. My colleagues also kept an eye out for anything they found in the collections they were working on at the time. I always made photocopies of distillery letterheads for my personal files and this one was in an architectural collection Sarah Jane Poindexter was working on. I was excited to find the letterhead because I know of no other image of the distillery. Letterhead images can often be embellished and are not the best source of an image for a distillery, but they are usually pretty accurate as to how the distillery was laid out and the number of buildings on the location.
The Pleasure Ridge Park Distillery was located in the southwest part of Jefferson County, Kentucky. It closed with prohibition and the only hint that it was there is the name of a street, “Railroad Avenue” named for the railroad spur to the distillery. The distillery was founded in the 1870s by F.G. Paine & Co., DSP 29, 5th District, Kentucky. In 1891, Nathan Block acquired control of the distillery and was renamed the Pleasure Ridge Park Distillery. Block was from Cincinnati and involved in several distilling companies at the time. The distillery had a capacity of 10,000 gallons a day and supported the brands “Old Pepper Spring”, “Old Times” and “Aristocrat Rye”. They also made whiskey for other companies. Isaac Wolfe Bernheim had whiskey made there to support his I.W. Harper brand. There was a major fire at the distillery that destroyed the warehouses in the late 1890s and Bernheim lost his whiskey. Bernheim went on to build his own distillery, but the Pleasure Ridge Park Distillery was rebuilt and that is the distillery depicted on this letterhead.
The letter is to D.X. Murphy & Co., architects, who were building a warehouse for the distillery in 1905. It is from their collection at the Filson that I copied the letterhead so to see the original you need to visit there. There is not a lot of information on this distillery to be found. I have seen references to the fact that one of J.W. Dant’s sons was involved with the distillery for a while as their distiller. They contract distilled for several companies such as Bernheim Bros. The letterhead shows they made both Bourbon and Rye whiskeys, but probably did other products such as corn whiskey for customers. When Prohibition shut down the distillery, the buildings were torn down but people living in houses built on the site often find fragments of bottles and other such artifacts buried in their yards.
cover image courtesy of Rosemary Miller