Little Bevo has been vacant for years, but there are plans to reopen soon.
Little Bevo is coming back.
The long-dormant younger sibling of the Bevo Mill has new owners who are renovating the historic clubhouse and plan to reopen it as an events space.
Nick Fruend, who along with his father Todd Fruend closed on the space early this month, says they will be doing the work in three phases and hope to have the main hall open this summer.
"It's probably got a couple decades of deferred maintenance before we can start the fun stuff," Fruend says during a recent tour of the building.
The stone-and-stucco facade matches the Bevo Mill across the street.
Just across Morganford Road from the Bevo Mill, the Tudor Revival-style building was built in 1924 for C. Henry Dietz, who ran the Bevo Mill for the Anheuser-Busch family, according to a historic district application. Like the Mill, it looks like a slice of Germany was dropped into the south St. Louis neighborhood with its stone-and-stucco facade, slate roof and pitched gables.
RELATED: St. Louis’ Historic ‘Little Bevo’ Building Is For Sale [PHOTOS]
The mill, a tavern and beer hall built for beer baron August Busch Sr., was beautifully restored and reopened in 2017 as Das Bevo
by Carol and Pat Schuchard. At the time, they told the RFT
they had been interested in Little Bevo as well but hadn't been able to connect with the owner. And so the building sat quiet, boarded up and vacant.
The main hall will get a refresh, including new wood facing between the beams on the ceiling.
That changed recently when it was listed for sale
this summer. Fruend says he along with his father and grandfather have always been passionate about bringing back old buildings. His grandfather passed away during the past year, but he and his father continue to carry the enthusiasm forward. He sees Little Bevo as a particular gem.
"This one just kind of flew under the radar," he says.
The arched front doorway opens into a long hall with high ceilings. Fruend says they plan to face the ceilings with lumber between the heavy, dark wooden beams, giving it an even more dramatic look. Around the corner is an expansive bar, fronted with stamped metal panels. Curved stained-glass windows remain intact.
There is a warehouse at the back of the building that Fruend says they plan to tackle in a second phase and a three-bedroom apartment above that could be converted into an Airbnb getaway in a final phase.
While the history of the Bevo Mill is part of the Budweiser lore, Little Bevo is more mysterious. Fruend has heard stories that it functioned as a more-private hangout for a segment of the mill crowd.
"Lots of speculation, because nobody knows exactly what was going on over here," Fruend says.
Stained-glass windows have survived.
There is, for example, the basement. It has deteriorated over the years, but it's clear it was no dank afterthought. Five-inch crown molding trims the walls above a ballroom-worthy floor that matches the upstairs hall. Fruend says there are rumors of a tunnel leading between Little Bevo and the mill, although he hasn't come across any evidence.
A light fixture above the basement stairs hints at the past opulence.
Work has already begun on the main floor.
"There's some contractors we've reached out to who are super excited to be involved, because it's a historic building," Fruend says.
When it's finished, they expect to hold private events while also opening it on a regular basis to charities as a way to help out local organizations.
"Everybody is excited to see it," Fruend says.
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