Fesenmeier Brewery in Huntington was opened in 1899 when the Fesenmeier family arrived from Cumberland, Maryland, where they had been brewing beer since shortly after the Civil War. They purchased a defunct brewery located in what was then known as Central City. It had been built in 1891 by the American Brewing Company but failed to prosper and soon was closed. The Fesenmeiers were able to make the venture a success, and as Huntington grew—it annexed Central City in 1909—their brewery did a brisk business.
In 1914, when West Virginia state prohibition took effect, the brewery was converted into a meat-packing plant and, later, a cold-storage warehouse. In 1934, with the repeal of prohibition, it was reopened by the Fesenmeier company. Once again the brewery produced Fesenmeier and West Virginia brand beer, selling the latter under the slogan, ‘‘West Virginia, That’ll Win Ya.’’
In the post-World War II era, however, small brewers such as Fesenmeier were unable to compete with the national brands and their multimillion-dollar advertising budgets. In 1968, the Fesenmeiers sold the faltering brewery and the new owner re-christened it the Little Switzerland Brewing Company. The handsome old brewery closed in 1971, and the next year was leveled to make way for a shopping center.
This Article was written by James E. Casto