The Ruhstaller Building in Downtown Sacramento

A building with ornate Victorian architecture is emblazoned with the name "Ruhstaller Building"

The Ruhstaller Building in downtown | Photo by Toys1988 via Wikimedia Commons

If only these walls could talk. We admit that our minds wander a lot, thinking about the early days of Sacramento. Often, while out on a walk, we ask ourselves, “I wonder what stories all of our Victorian houses could tell,” since so many of these ornate mansions are connected to the River City’s origins.

Thankfully, some buildings do have a voice due to their connection to pivotal figures who’ve helped make Sac what it is today. Take the Ruhstaller Building for instance, which is located across from Cesar Chavez Plaza in Downtown Sacramento at 726 K St.

On the National Register for Historic Places, the Queen Anne Victorian building takes its name from Frank Ruhstaller, a Swedish immigrant who was a major figure in Sacramento’s beer scene in the late 1800s.

Frank founded Ruhstaller Brewery in 1881 before being asked to manage Buffalo Brewing in 1888, the largest brewery founded west of the Mississippi at the time.

He used the money he made from these companies to fund the construction of the Ruhstaller building in 1898, which served as his offices until Prohibition put an end to legitimate beer making. Today, it’s used as offices + houses a retail space on the ground floor.

Looking back, Frank has been called “the city’s top brewer” of his time — a feat much bigger than it sounds, as Sacramento was renowned for its beer making at the turn of the century, and, in particular, its ability for hop growing (by the 1910s, it’s said that the River City was home to the most acres of “hops under cultivation in the world”).

Frank’s impact can still be felt in our city with the Ruhstaller Farm, which produces beers with locally-grown hops and with recipes approved by his descendants, among other things. It also manages a tasting room in the Kay District known as Ruhstaller BMST.

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