former meat processing facility transformed into west side arts enclave

The Hildebrandt Company, a sprawling, 115,000-square-foot complex on Walton Avenue on Cleveland's west side, was built as a meat processing facility. From 1885 until 1971, Hildebrandt made sausages and smoked meats that were sold throughout the city.

More recently, the building has been reinvented as a creative hub and artist enclave. Space in the building is occupied by artisan welders and metalsmiths, custom woodworkers and other craftsman entrepreneurs. Lake Erie Creamery, an artisan cheesemaker, is also planning to move into the Hildebrandt building.

"Our tenants believe in what they're doing and have a network of professional support," says Bill Hildebrandt, who adds that the building has always been in the family's name. "My joy is that the building is going back to its original roots."

Hildebrandt is referring not only to the entrepreneurs in the building, but also to the fact that he wants to transform the first floor into a commercial kitchen and incubator for food-based businesses. Although the idea is in its nascent stages, the building is well-suited for it. Hildebrandt hopes the project will come to fruition and help urban farmers and other food-based businesses grow and succeed.

One of the building's tenants is Rust Belt Welding, which has become well-known for its artistic bike racks. Currently, Rust Belt is working to transform a big blue shipping container into The Bike Box, a custom-made bike corral that will reside in Ohio City.

The complex's many historic features include a towering smokestack, massive coolers, glazed yellow brick interior walls and an ancient, bricked-over stable facing Clark Avenue (the hitching post where the beef was hung is still intact). Hildebrandt plans to restore the stable and create a store for artisan goods.

Source: Bill Hildebrandt
Writer: Lee Chilcote