Metal Works Brewing gets OK from Bloomington historic district commission for new signage
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Metal Works Brewing gets OK from Bloomington historic district commission for new signage

Apr 17, 2023

New individual aluminum block letters, lit with LEDs will soon replace the temporary vinyl banner sign on the facade of Metal Works Brewing Company in downtown Bloomington.

The new signage got approval from Bloomington's historic preservation commission (HPC) on Thursday.

Metal Works needed a nod from the HPC, because the building, which was constructed in 1905, sits a half block east of the courthouse square, on 6th Street. That puts it just inside the eastern boundary of the courthouse historic district.

The new signage comes after a recent name change to the business, which was formerly known as Function Brewing. The new name was foreshadowed by an ownership change at the start of this year.

Some Function fans were caught off guard by the name change, which came on June 10, when the Function letters were unceremoniously unbolted from the building facade. In a Facebook post, Metal Works responded to some of the pushback by writing, "First and foremost, we want to say sorry for the scare."

The new signage was not controversial for HPC members. Allison Chopra, a recent appointee to the commission, got confirmation from Bruce Norton, with Station 43 Design, that nothing would change in the exterior color scheme. Otherwise, commissioners had no questions or comments.

The considerations weighed by the HPC for such decisions include the scale of the signage, whether historic features are obscured, and whether the materials are appropriate to the building.

What Metal Works is proposing for the outside of the place could be analyzed as about the same as Function's signage, but with different letters.

Not needing HPC approval in connection with the name change is new interior decor, which includes the front panel of an old Ford truck, a four-foot diameter scrap metal sculpture of a fish, and new rust-colored paint for the walls. The exposed brick remains unpainted.

Also not within the HPC jurisdiction are some changes to the menu. Some of the old sandwiches have been transformed into flatbread options. The menu also includes new items like a giant pretzel and chicken wings.

Several of the old Function beer names have Metal Works counterparts—same recipe but different name. From a server's cribsheet, rendered by The B Square in set-theoretic notation, is a sampling of the those ordered pairs (x, y), where x denotes the Function name and y denotes the Metal Works moniker:

{(Tangent, The Welder), (Digit, Rusty Nail), (Acute, Solid Gold), (Obtuse, Citra Journeyman)}