Montana's oldest brewery and one of the few buildings of its kind still standing Montana, Gilbert's "Virginia Brewery" enjoys much distinction in Montana's history. Founded by Henry Gilbert, Christian Ritcher, and William Smith in 1863, the brewery was the first in the Territory.
The present building was constructed in the early 1860's and has been altered many times, although its appearance remains unchanged from the 1880's. Century-old willows shade the Brewery Garden Park. The stone Gilbert House has two log additions that are older than the brewery itself but stand adjacent to the brewery. One of these addition is the pottery, which was once the brewery's bottling plant. The other addition is a milk house, which occupied the area when Gilbert ran a dairy in the early 1900's.
Gilbert beer was proclaimed by authorities to be among the best in the country. Gilbert's Brewery produced such high-quality beer until Prohibition, which lasted from 1920 to 1933. During the Prohibition the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcholic beverages was illegal, so the Brewery attempted to convert to various soft drinks such as "Iron Brew." After the repeal of Prohibition, an effort was made to reorganize the company so that they could begin to brew beer again, but nothing resulted from these efforts.
Daylight Village, built by the Boveys in the late 1940's, now occupies a section of the old Brewery area. The row of cabins on the north were constructed from "stout houses" built during World War II. They look quite different today from when they served the military. The false fronts facing Daylight Creek are superior to many movie sets and even some restorations. The signs on these buildings were created from the names of real businesses that once served Virginia City, although. The names were found in early editions of the Montana Post.
Special acknowledgements to: John D. Ellingsen, John N. DeHaas, Tony Dalich, and Ken Sievert, Tom Cook and Ellen Baumler of the Montana Historical Society.