Exterior shot

photo by: Alan English CPA/Flickr/CC BY NC 2.0

March 10, 2016

The Museum Club in Flagstaff, Arizona

What’s in a name? Well in the case of The Museum Club in Flagstaff, Arizona, quite a lot!

Located in the Coconino National Forest and surrounded by the Grand Canyon, Oak Creek Canyon, Walnut Canyon, Waputaki National Monument, Sunset Crater National Monument, and the San Francisco Peaks, this Route 66 icon has served as a museum, a club, a music hall, and a bar over its 85-year history.

Constructed by taxidermist Dean Eldredge in the early 1930s, the former eponymous museum is touted as the biggest log cabin in Arizona and once housed upward of 30,000 items from Eldredge’s lifetime collection of stuffed animals, rifles, and Native American artifacts.

The structure—aptly nicknamed “The Zoo” by the local police force due to the rowdy crowd the club attracted—was used as a nightclub, recording studio, and roadhouse through the 1950s until it was resurrected as a country music dance hall by Don and Thorna Scott in 1963.

Over the next 10 years, Don and Thorna would welcome the likes of Willie Nelson, Wynn Stewart, Wanda Jackson, and Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys to take the stage at The Museum Club. But tragedy struck in 1973 when, after falling down a set of stairs, Thorna died. Just two years later, distraught from the loss, Don took his own life in front of The Museum Club's fireplace.

Guitar sign illuminates the name of the Museum Club

photo by: Gordon Ednie/Flickr/CC BY NC ND 2.0

The Museum Club was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.

Current owners Joe and Shanyn Lange took over with their son Brandon Tullis in 2005. Located less than five miles from Northern Arizona University, the club attracts an eclectic group of students, locals, and visitors seeking an authentic Route 66 experience. Outfitted with wooden booths, rich red curtains flanking the stage, a mounted elk head, and antler decorations, The Museum Club embraces its storied past.

In addition to two or three live acts weekly, an open mic night, and karaoke, The Museum Club also plays host to a couple of friendly ghosts according to patrons and staff alike. Many believe that Don and Thorna Scott have never left the premises, reminding everyone of their presence by way of creaking floorboards, flickering lights, mysteriously lit hearths, and even a disarrayed bar shelf.

Location: 3404 Historic Rte 66, Flagstaff, AZ 86004

Hours: 7 days a week, 11 a.m.-2 a.m.

You're Having: 10-cent beers and $2 U Call Its every Wednesday!

Best Yelp Review: "There is a magic in the air of honky tonk, Coors, and days gone by. This a country music venue and bar, but to write just that feels wrong."–Amanda C.

Katharine Keane is a former editorial assistant at Preservation Magazine. She enjoys getting lost in new cities, reading the plaques at museums, and discovering the next great restaurant.

Join us for PastForward Online 2022, the historic preservation event of the year, November 1-4, 2022.

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