The HAMMEL MUSEUM started as a beer garden and, in the intervening century, became successively a brewery, an ice plant, a soda bottling plant, and finally ended as an active industry still making ice.
The museum is named in honor of the Hammel family, who came to Socorro in the early 1880's and built the brewery. Clarence Hammel was the last of the family to operate the business. He died in 1986. The structure was willed to the Socorro County Historical Society to become the Hammel Museum. The museum structure was built during the boom years in Socorro which began with the coming of the railroad in 1880 and ended with the closing of the mines by 1893. The museum chronicles the industrial and commercial history of those boom years.
Clarence's grandfather, Jacob Hammel emigrated to the United States from Munich, Bavaria in 1848. He was accompanied by his friend Eberhard Anheuser, who wanted Jacob to join him in building a brewery in St. Louis. Jacob, in his infinite wisdom, decided to start his own brewery across the Mississippi River in Lebanon, Illinois, close to East St. Louis. The plant across the rive in Missouri became, of course, the famous Anheuser-Busch company.
Nevertheless, Jacob did well with his brewery in Lebanon, calling it the Illinois Brewery. Relatives from Bavaria came over to work for the enterprising Jacob. Meanwhile, the company survived a spring flood even though survival required rebuilding the plant. In the early 1880's, Jacob's son, William G. Hammel was sent to New Mexico Territory for his health. He was diagnosed as having developed blood poisoning as a result of dental surgery. Living in New Mexico was supposed to prolong his life. It did! He was joined in Socorro by his brother Gustav....
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