Last week we looked at John Bradley, who operated the Forest City Brewery on Highland Avenue up until 1870. We change our focus this week to the McGlinchy brothers who had originally partnered with John Bradley and Hiram Gibbs in that early brewery in 1858.

This image of an 1871 F.W. Beers & Co. Atlas shows the location of the Casco Brewery on Fore Street in Portland, opposite the Portland Company. South Portland Historical Society image

In the 1859 advertisement that appeared with last week’s story, Forest City Brewery was being run by “McGlinchy, Bradley, & Co.” – the “& Co.” being Hiram Gibbs, who left the business later that year, selling out his quarter interest to Bradley and the McGlinchy brothers.

Patrick and James McGlinchy left the business in 1860, selling their combined two/thirds interest to John Bradley, and established their own business in Portland, Casco Brewery.

The McGlinchy’s Casco Brewery operation was extensive. The main brewery buildings were located at 138-140 Fore St., opposite the Portland Company (the street has been renumbered – the footprint is now covered by the Munjoy South apartments). Casco Brewery maintained an additional store/saloon at 89 Commercial St. (now 121-123 Commercial St.).

Like John Bradley, James and Patrick McGlinchy showed up frequently in the newspapers because they were brewing during times when there were prohibition laws against the sale of alcohol in Maine and Portland. When charged, their defense was that they were supposedly only manufacturing product here and selling it to customers elsewhere, but most people knew that was not the case.

They had many run-ins with law enforcement, with search and seizures being reported regularly in the papers. The McGlinchys would simply pay the fines and continue in business.

Advertisement for Casco Brewery that appeared in the Daily Eastern Argus in 1871. South Portland Historical Society image

We find a description of the brewery buildings on Fore Street after they were damaged in a fire in November, 1871: “At 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon fire broke out in the Casco Brewery, on Fore Street, opposite the Portland Company’s Works, a large wooden building with wings running back more than a hundred feet in the rear,” reported the Portland Daily Press on Nov. 7, 1871. “The result was that the main building, containing machinery, kilns, vats, a large quantity of grain and malt, and a lot of beer in the cellar was destroyed; also a considerable length of the principal wing, which contained grain and other material. The fire originated in a kiln in the wing where porter malt was being made.”

It appears that after the Casco Brewing fire in 1871, the McGlinchy brothers went their separate ways. We see a search and seizure related to Patrick McGlinchy in April 1872 at 50 Adams St. in Portland; the sheriff seized one barrel of whiskey and two demijohns of other liquors that were being stored at that location. Patrick McGlinchy moved forward with having a new brick building constructed on Fore Street on the site of the old brewery and subsequent advertisements for Casco Brewing listed Patrick McGlinchy as the proprietor.

James McGlinchy showed his audacity in an incident that took place in July of 1872, reported in the Portland Daily Press. Deputy Sheriff Adams seized 35 barrels of liquor which belonged to James and which had been stored at 118 Fore St. Adams took these barrels to Portland City Hall where they were stored in the basement. McGlinchy filed a writ of replevin (a claim that the property was taken illegally or wrongfully), but before the papers were served on Deputy Sheriff Adams, “Mr. McGlinchy was present (at City Hall) with three teams and a large number of men, and at the proper moment the liquors were hustled out of the building and taken to Atlantic Wharf, where they were shipped on board steamer Montreal for Boston.”

It was James McGlinchy who decided to pursue his activities across the river in South Portland (known then as Cape Elizabeth). As we mentioned last week, John Bradley had sold Forest City Brewery in 1870. In April of 1870, he sold a half-interest in the brewery (land and building) to James McLaughlin. The following month, he sold the remaining half of the brewery to two men, Robert B. Henry and John Harrison. The resulting business was then known as John Harrison & Company for about a year, although they still used the name Forest City Brewery as their trade name.

A year later, in May of 1871, John Harrison backed out of the business and sold his share to Robert B. Henry. This resulted in the business now being known as McLaughlin & Henry, but they still used the Forest City Brewery name in most of their dealings. Henry remained in the business for another year, but then sold out to McLaughlin in 1872. McLaughlin appears to have brought in a few investors that same year, then decided to sell out to James McGlinchy. who bought back the entire brewery on Aug. 26, 1872.

With James McGlinchy now operating Forest City Brewery as a sole proprietor, things seemed to be going very well. He operated a store/saloon in Portland, but maintained the manufacturing operation at the brewery in Cape Elizabeth. In a newspaper report in April of 1874, James had started the construction of an extension to the brewery on Highland Avenue (that section of the street was known as Brewery Road at the time).

In a story in the Portland Daily Press on Oct. 21, 1875, we can feel the disdain by the general public toward the prohibition laws: “Yesterday morning the sheriffs visited the store of James McGlinchy on Commercial Street, and made a seizure. While the officers were busy behind the bar, someone removed a trunk filled with liquors and carried it to a place of safety. Just as the officers were leaving the store McGlinchy’s team came along loaded with beer, but the driver was warned just in time to turn and get out of their way.”

In a news report from 1876, James McGlinchy was constructing an ice house in Cape Elizabeth in the vicinity of the brewery.

In September of 1879, it made the newspapers when James was seriously injured when he was thrown from his horse, striking his head. James McGlinchy died at the age of 57 in June of 1880.

If you have information, artifacts or historic photographs to share, please reach out to the South Portland Historical Society. You can reach us by mail at 55 Bug Light Park, South Portland, ME 04106, by phone at 207-767-7299, by email at [email protected], or through our Facebook page. The society’s Online Museum can be found at https://sphistory.pastperfectonline.com.

Kathryn Onos DiPhilippo is executive director of the South Portland Historical Society.

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