After the repeal of Prohibition, Seagram built a distillery in Louisville. This distillery was on the southern boundary of the city on Seventh Street Road. The city limits ended not far from where they built this distillery at the time. Several other distilleries were built in the same area at about the same time, but outside of the city limits and the city taxes. These distilleries included Yellowstone Distillery, Four Roses Distillery, the distillery that is now Brown-Forman Distillery, Stitzel-Weller Distillery, Glencoe Distillery and Hill and Hill Distillery. When Louisville moved to annex the area where these distilleries are located, the distilleries supported the incorporation of Shively, Kentucky because the new city would have lower taxes.
The Seagram Distillery was built to be a huge distillery with lots of warehouse space. The office building was a very fancy Greek revival style building that became known locally as “the Seagram Palace”. It housed the administration for Seagram in Kentucky. The complex had modern laboratories for quality control and bottling lines. As Seagram grew, they purchased the Frankfort Distillery Company and added the Four Roses Distillery and warehouses just down the road from this location and the old Stitzel Distillery on Story Avenue, which Frankfort had bought from Stitzel when they built Stitzel-Weller. They also purchased several distilleries elsewhere in the State such as Henry McKenna Distillery and Athertonville Distillery. In the 1950s, Seagram had a huge presence in Kentucky.
The late 1960s started the decline of Seagram in Kentucky. Sales of whiskey declined in the late 1960s and 70s. Seagram began to close distilleries as demand for their products slumped. They moved the production of Four Roses to their distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. They moved their bottling operation to Lawrenceburg, Indiana. In 1983, they closed their offices in Louisville and the buildings sat vacant for many years. Today, the office building is owned by a local charity organization and the warehouses are used by a document storage company.
This postcard shows the distillery as it looked in the 1950s. The art deco style warehouses and distillery were built of brick and concrete. The postcard shows a very lovely campus-style complex, well landscaped and clean. The complex still has much the same look today. The buildings were made to last and they have, showing little sign of decay. What the postcard does not show are the other businesses in the area. Today the neighborhood is dominated by strip clubs and a huge flea market. There is still distilling in the area. Brown-Forman still makes Bourbon a short distance away. Behind Seagram, the old Hill and Hill distillery is making industrial alcohol. The Yellowstone distillery is now owned and operated by Florida Distilleries and distills flavoring alcohol from citrus wine.
Photos courtesy of Rosemary Miller. Images from the archives of Michael Veach.