Otto Charles Wolf was born in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. He was the son of Philadelphia brewer Charles C. Wolf, and became intimate with the brewing trade in his fathers firm. He took an interest in the engineering aspect of the business and after his primary education persued both that field and architecture in his secondary studies at the University of Pennsylvania. When he graduated in June of 1876 he was not yet twenty years and was the youngest of his class of Mechanical Engineers.
He entered the employ of the US Government as an engineer and draftsman in the ordinance department, which was then engaged in drafting foreign army and navy equipment for the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. From there he furthered his knowledge of mechanical and electrical engineering as an apprentice in several companies throughout the Eastern states. He then worked three years with the Fred W. Wolf Co. of Chicago as a supervising engineer, and became thoroughly familiar with the science and practice of mechanical refrigeration.
In 1883, at the age of 28, Wolf returned to Philadelphia and established himself as an architect with a specialty in breweries. He completed his first major project that year, the 150,000 barrel Ale and Beer brewery owned by James Everard of New York. From there his career became meteoric. Within ten years the architecture of Otto C. Wolf could be seen on nearly every major brewery in the cities of New York and Philadelphia.
Wolf was a practitioner of Rundbogenstil, a style of architecture that fused elements of Byzantine, Romanesque, and Renaissance traditions. The style first gained popularity in mid-19th century Germany. Wolf imported it for his German clientele in America.
Ultimately Wolf's reputation among brewers spanned the country. By 1910 he had become America's premier brewery architect. Aside from Pennsylvania and New York his buildings could be seen in Sacramento, California, New Orleans, Louisiana, Jacksonville Florida- even Havana Cuba. The iconic breweries that used his architectural services include Jacob Ruppert, Bergner & Engel, Peter Barbey, Bartholomay, Schlitz and Pabst.
Otto Charles Wolf died at his home in Overbrook, Pennsylvania on December 19, 1916 He had just turned 60 years of age.