William and Marie Hamm House

Three splendid houses grace the eastern side of Greenbrier--once called Cable Street. All of them were connected with the extended Hamm family who decided to remain close to their company instead of moving to more prestigious areas. All three of the houses, along with the mansion across the street were heated by steam piped up from the brewery. There was a stairway that led from the end of Greenbrier to the brewery below that they walked to and from work.

One of the most startling Hamm family events occurred on this well-travelled route. On June 15, 1933 William Hamm Jr., then president of the brewery, was walking home for lunch around 12:45 in the afternoon. He was grabbed by what papers described as “four shadowy figures” and put in a car that had been sitting on the corner of Minnehaha and Greenbrier. He had been kidnapped by the infamous Barker-Karpis gang, was driven to a hideout in Illinois and held for ransom. A large sum on money was paid and William was returned, unhurt but shaken up by the experience.

The first of three Hamm residences at 668 Greenbrier, on the northeast corner of Margaret Street, was built in 1892 by William Hamm Sr. who, it is said, gave it as a wedding gift for his bride Marie Scheffer. They married in October 1893. The designer of the Georgian Revival house was the locally prominent team of Reed and Stem. It was neo-classical inspirit, and showed Stem's love of monumental exteriors and finely crafted interiors. One of the features that has disappeared are verandas with balustrades that faced both streets.

By 1904, William Sr. and his family had outgrown the house and moved across the street into his parent’s old brick mansion. For a brief time the Otto Muller and George Benz families, who earlier had Greenbrier homes of their own, lived there pending moves to other locations. In 1926, the George and Josephine Hamm Benz family moved to a new house on the River Road. Otto and Marie Muller moved from 672 Greenbrier into 668 Greenbrier.

When no members of the Hamm wished to live in the house, the family made the generous decision to donate the use of the house to the Community Chest. For a time it was East Side Relief Center where sometimes there were long lines of poor people who came for public assistance during the Great Depression. The Hamm's finally sold the house in 1934 and it began its forty- year history as a boarding house. It has now been returned to single-family use and is in the process of being restored.