History: John A. Wallis

John A. Wallis was a longtime brewer in Bangor. For decades, from 1842 to 1872, he made only soft drinks. He then began producing small beer at his Exchange Block location. He continued brewing beer until his death in 1896.

Exchange and Kenduskeag Blocks in Bangor, 1889
John A. Wallis brewed in the Exchange Block and then the Kenduskeag Block in Bangor. from Sanborn-Perris Map Co., 1889 (Folger Library, University of Maine at Orono)

Wallis occupied a number of spaces throughout his 54 years of beverage manufacturing, The two longest addresses were on Exchange Street (from at least 1848 till 1859) and in the basement of the Kenduskeag Block (from 1875 till 1890). In his later years of business, the venture grew quite large for the time, reportedly having twelve assistants in 1888. In that same year, Wallis’s business was reported as the sole eastern Maine agent for Moxie, a Maine specialty, which at the time was lauded as a cure-all.

John Wallis's brewery in the Kenduskeag Block in Bangor, 1875
John Wallis’s brewery in the Kenduskeag Block in Bangor, 1875. from Bird’s Eye View of the City of Bangor, Penobscot County, Maine 1875 (Library of Congress)

Wallis was born in Guilford, Maine sometime around 1816 to 1818. He moved to Bangor with his family around 1828. He worked as a toll collector at the Orono bridge before he moved on to making beverages. The obituary carried in the Daily Whig and Courier asserted, “He was an able business man and in his social life was a genial friend to all who knew him, and he was held in the highest esteem by all for his sterling qualities.”

Sources:
Will Anderson, The Great State of Maine Beer Book (Portland: Anderson & Sons’ Publishing Co., 1996).
Bangor City Directory, 1843-1895
U.S. Census, 1860, 1870, 1880