As owners and operators of the Stegmaier Brewery in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, the Stegmaier name was well known both in America and abroad. In 1857, Charles Stegamier began brewing Stegmaier Beer and by 1913, the beer had won so many gold medals in Paris, Brussels and Rome that it came to be called Stegmaier “Gold Medal” Beer. Interestingly enough, Stegmaier Beer is still being brewed, to this day, here in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania – at the Lion Brewery.
Click HERE to explore today’s beer offerings & additional history of the Stegmaier Brewery.
The Stegmaier family owned and operated the Stegmaier Brewery in Wilkes-Barre and made very significant contributions to Wilkes-Barre’s fascinating history.
A 1906 publication, “Genealogical and Family History of the Wyoming and Lackawanna Valleys” describes the Stegmaier family as…
“…among the highly esteemed citizens of the City of Wilkes-Barre, have contributed largely towards its growth and development, and are staunch supporters of every worthwhile enterprise. They are extremely charitable, and in all their benevolences follow out the golden rule: ‘Let not thy right hand know what thy left hand doeth.‘”
History of the Frederick Stegmaier Mansion
The historic significance of the Mansion actually begins thirty-six years prior to Frederick J. Stegmaier’s ownership, when it was constructed…
…by a locally renowned architect and builder named Missouria B. Houpt sometime around 1870. Mr. Houpt’s recognition as an architect went beyond Pennsylvania’s borders and into New York City where he studied architecture. During this period, he became acquainted with Bruce Price, whose daughter was Emily Post.
Mr. Price himself was a rather famous architect of Victorian America being responsible for such important accomplishments as Tuxedo Park. As a matter of fact, Missouria Houpt and Bruce Price worked together on many of Wilkes-Barre’s finest buildings, one being the property which is the subject of this narrative, and another being the Colonel Ricketts Mansion which is currently owned by Wilkes University and is also on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the River Street Historic District of Luzerne County.
As for the actual architecture of the The Stegmaier Mansion itself, it is a fine example of the High Victorian exuberance which was so popular in America during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, and is a vernacular interpretation of the French Chateau style with Gothic Revival and Aesthetic Movement features throughout.
On February 20, 1899, the Mansion was purchased from Missouria Houpt by his long time friend Abram Nesbitt, whose name is well known and interwoven with the commercial, charitable and educational institutions of the Wyoming Valley during the period of its most striking growth in population, resources and development. The property was owned by Mr. Nesbitt for a brief period totaling not quite seven years.
Then, in January 1906, the Mansion was purchased by Frederick J. Stegmaier (pictured). It would remain in the Stegmaier family until the late 1940’s.
History of the Mary Stegmaier Mansion
The 28-room home was described at the time of its construction as a ‘palatial residence’ for the Stegmaier family. Tragically…
…George Stegmaier would never live there; in poor health, he died during a trip to the Bohemian spa of Karlsbad in 1910 while the house was still under construction. It was completed and briefly occupied by his widow, Mary Costello Stegmaier. That same year, Stegmaier lager won the first of its eight ‘gold medals’ at European expositions.
This colonial revival mansion was designed by Wilkes-Barre architects Knapp & Bosworth, and constructed by contractors Thomas & Kerr for George J. Stegmaier, scion of the Wilkes-Barre brewing family and Vice President of the Stegmaier Brewing Company. The scale of the Stegmaier residence is indicative of the success ultimately achieved by the brewing industry in the anthracite coal fields.
In 1925 – only fourteen years after the mansion’s completion – Wilkes-Barre Council 302 of the Knights of Columbus purchased the home – “one of the showplaces of the city” – for service as its clubhouse. In 1943, prompted by wartime needs, Mary Costello Stegmaier’s children funded the mansion’s renovation and presented it to the American Red Cross for use as the organization’s Wyoming Valley chapter house; dedicated to the memory of Mrs. Stegmaier, it served in that role until 2004.
When the Red Cross moved out, five local businesswomen dubbed the Quinary Group purchase the Mary Stegmaier Mansion in order to ensure its preservation. Under their ownership, it became the first home of Arts Youniverse – the arts cooperative that helped foster the reemergence of downtown as an arts district.
The Mary Stegmaier Mansion is clad in dressed buff brick with bold quoined lintels and a prominent dentiled cornice. But its most notable feature is the grand double-height entry portico, lit by an enormous hanging lamp.
A spacious vestibule and entrance hall, embellished with wooden pillsters provides access to the formal front women’s parlor (to the right) and men’s study (to the left). But it is dominated by the home’s grand staircase, which is bordered by an elaborate sinuous railing.
As you ascend the staircase, note how the first landing opens onto a view of the remarkable first floor solarium, crowned by a ceiling of deep blue art glass with a floral motif – perhaps the most stunning architectural feature in the whole of Luzerne County – a MUST see! A cozy seating inglenook is built into the solarium wall.
On the second floor, the dark-wood staircase dramatically opens toward the Grande Ballroom – an expansive gathering area, which occupies the entire front of the home, and is able to accommodate large parties & celebrations.
Beer-drinking cherubs ornament the mansion’s third-floor Billiards Room – a nod to Bavarian grandeur, featuring current owner Joe Matteo’s authentic beer stein collection. The third floor also features a ‘preparation room’ for the bride-to-be.
It has been estimated that to build this manse, in today’s economy and according to its original specs, would cost at least $25,ooo,ooo.
Owner Joseph Matteo acquired the Frederick Stegmaier Mansion in 2001 and had successfully worked to restore it to its former opulence. When it came for sale, Mr. Matteo purchased the Mary Stegmaier Mansion in 2014 – and has painstakingly worked to similarly restore it to its original grandeur.
Today, Mr. Matteo has built a brand of the highest end facilities & accommodations the Wilkes-Barre region has to offer – hosting Weddings, Specialty Teas & Gatherings, Corporate & Private Events, Bed & Breakfast facilities, and FUTURE plans of opening a Fine Dining Restaurant w/ full-serve Bar!
Commenting about his work on the Mansions, Matteo explains, “The vision I had for the Mansions was to achieve the look and feel as if the Stegmaiers could walk through the door at any moment. I set out to create a treasure that all of Wilkes-Barre could be proud of. My dream is for the Stegmaier Mansions to be a part of the legacy of the City that will live on forever.”
More than one hundred years later, the Stegmaier name remains one of the most historically recognized in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
The Stegmaier Family Crest