Lock & Mule, Lockport

2022 Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award for Adaptive Reuse

The Lock & Mule, operated by the Tangled Roots Brewing Company, is located in Lockport’s downtown historic district inside the former Mackin Motor Co. Ford dealership dating from 1927. Owners Inga Carus and Peter Limberger renovated the existing vacant building, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and adapted it as a 7,000-square-foot modern craft brewery and restaurant highlighting the building’s historic architectural elements. Hints of the building’s automotive past are scattered throughout the building, like the large retractable glass garage doors where the dealership’s garage doors once were and an open concept dining area that originally served as the Mackin auto showroom. Design details, murals created by local artists and even the name of the Lock & Mule highlight’s Lockport’s role as the site of Lock 1 on the I&M Canal.

The City of Lockport, which is leading an effort to revitalize the downtown commercial district, contributed funding for the project to support environmental work, façade improvements, fire suppression and utility connections and permits.

(Photo credit: Lock & Mule)


Peter Limberger and Inga Carus, owners of CLRED and Tangled Roots Brewing Company

Nathan Watson President, CLRED

Brian Breslin, CLRED

Blake Rohrabaugh, Tangled Roots Brewing Company Hospitality

City of Lockport and Mayor Steve Streit

Ben Benson, City of Lockport

Architect: Aaron Holverson, AIA, Studio GWA

Interior Design: Eric Rahn, Looney & Associates

Contractor: Erich Springinsguth, Delauter Construction

Interior Millwork: Josh Hendryx, Phoenix Builders

(Photo credit: Lock & Mule)


Nathan Watson, President, CLRED

The preservation of this historic building and its historic features was important to us and the City of Lockport. The Mackin Automotive Building is one of the iconic building types of early automotive sales and service in the first quarter of the 20th century. The beauty of the rehabilitation comes from its dramatic use of the historic features with the return of large garage doors (now glass), the heavy wooden bow trusses and the wonderfully detailed brick and concrete façade that highlight the importance and transcendence of automobiles in the 1920’s. These southernmost blocks of downtown Lockport were the center of automotive businesses.

The continued vibrancy of historic downtowns is also important to us. Tangled Roots Brewing Company, operator of Lock & Mule and owned by Inga Carus and Peter Limberger, has adopted as its business model the construction of new buildings and the rehab of old buildings in historic downtowns to house their brewery/restaurant concepts. So far, Tangled Roots is operating in four historic downtowns in Northern Illinois – Ottawa, Glenview, DeKalb and Lockport – with plans to keep expanding to new cities.

(Photo credit: Lock & Mule)


Nathan Watson, President, CLRED

CLRED chooses a project based on its potential for transforming small Midwestern towns, starting in Illinois. These projects are designed to be catalysts for other property owners and business operators to invest in the surrounding buildings and streets. The City of Lockport has a significant historic downtown commercial building inventory. Four historic buildings across South State Street were renovated after the Lock & Mule project began. These buildings now house a brewpub, a restaurant, a coffee and pastry shop, and additional downtown residential units. One of these buildings is believed to be the location where Abraham Lincoln gave a “stage coach” speech from its balcony. The building was in advanced decay, but is now beautifully renovated.

In addition to construction jobs, Tangled Roots added over 30 new jobs, filled by residents from the immediate area. A partnership with Joliet Junior College’s premier culinary school already provides the opportunity for several Lock & Mule employees to gain culinary skills and education with TRBC-funded tuition reimbursements.

Though Lockport is a small town, the leadership of Lockport’s mayor, city administrator and entire city staff has a big vision for their community and a commitment to the authentic character of its built environment. Any hiccup in the development process always found a cure of some kind from City Hall. This engagement with the city allowed the Lock & Mule to become a reality, a catalyst for downtown redevelopment and an encouragement for others who now join a flock of downtown developers. The City of Lockport used the transformation of its downtown to become the 2021 Strong Town of the Year, an awards program sponsored by the StrongTowns organization.

(Photo credit: Lock & Mule)

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