Rainier Beer R

The history of the Seattle skyline is inextricably attached to a variety of structural landmarks. Among these landmarks is the Old Rainier Brewery. Located at 3100 Airport Way S, this historic complex features a number of buildings that represent over a century of construction. As the name implies, the complex was formerly a brewery. Today, it operates as a mixed-use property, providing work and living space for artists, manufacturers, and creative companies.

Rainier Seattle Sign
Rainier Seattle Sign

Old Rainier Brewery history begins around the year 1878, which was when the site began brewing beer. The Rainier Brewing Company was officially founded six years later in 1884 and occupied the Old Rainier Brewery complex until the brewery was sold to G. Heilman Brewing Company in 1977.  After passing through several more hands, the Old Rainier Brewery was purchased by Pabst Brewing Company. Pabst closed the brewery in 1999 and sold it, marking an end to the complex’s more than 100 years as a place of beer production. After changing hands a couple more times, the Old Rainier Brewery complex was dramatically renovated. All the beer-making equipment was exhaustively removed to make way for a variety of new spaces and uses. The plan is to transform this complex of nearly 30 buildings into the largest and most distinctive mixed-used property in Seattle.

Rainier Restoration Party
Rainier Restoration Party

For nearly 50 years, the Old Rainier Brewery’s main contribution to the Seattle skyline was a highly recognizable sign. This sign was nothing more than a large red “R” that stood for Rainier Brewing. Simple as it was, it became a major Seattle landmark. Years ago when Tulley’s Coffee assumed control of the brewery and converted it into their headquarters, the red “R” was replaced with a green “T”. Tulley’s has since moved out, and on October 24, 2013, Seattleites saw the return of the Rainier Brewing “R” to the top of the old brewery. A local company named Western Neon created the new landmark sign, which stands 12 feet tall and was welcomed by a large public party.

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