December 8, 2016

The Palace Restaurant and Saloon in Prescott, Arizona

photo by: Jenni Konrad/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0

Dedicated Palace patrons saved the wooden bar that's still in use today from a Whiskey Row fire in 1900.

September, 1877: The Palace saloon opens its doors on Prescott, Arizona’s Whiskey Row, a burgeoning strip of bars in the developing town. It is frequented not only by mining prospectors and local business proprietors, but also those looking to drum up support for political candidates and men searching for work.

The Palace quickly earns a spot as a renowned Prescott establishment. Wild West legend, gambler, and lawman Wyatt Earp, his brother Virgil, and their friend Doc Holliday all frequent the watering hole. Virgil and his wife Allie live in town, where he oversees a sawmill and serves as town constable. (It’s also rumored that Holliday takes up residence in the saloon after a particularly lucky winning streak in poker.)

Eventually the Earps and Holliday make their way to Tombstone, Arizona, where they face down the outlaw group known as the Cowboys in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral—perhaps the most famous shootout in the history of the American West (and the subject of the 1957 film by the same name.)

Fast forward to July 14th, 1900: A fire on Whiskey Row destroys much of the original Palace, but the elaborately carved Brunswick-brand bar, which is still in use today, is saved when it is carried across the street by diehard Palace patrons. The Palace is rebuilt in 1901 as the Palace Hotel and Bar, and features a Chinese restaurant and barber shop. In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt stops in while in Prescott to commission a statue commemorating Bucky O’Neil, a former mayor of the town and a captain in Roosevelt's Rough Riders who died in battle during the Spanish-American War.

These days, the Palace is billed as “the oldest frontier saloon in Arizona,” and is one of Whiskey Row’s most revered institutions. In 1996, the Palace’s management undertook renovation work to return the bar to its 1901 appearance. They left authentic elements like bullet holes in the high metal ceiling (left over from an Old West-style gunfight) intact, as well as original swinging saloon-style doors, wooden arches, and carved details.

There’s too much rich history at the Palace to put into words, so if you’ve always wanted a taste of the lawless Wild West, head to the real thing on Whiskey Row in the Grand Canyon State. Here are a few things to know before you darken the doors of this historic establishment.

Location: 120 S. Montezuma St., Prescott, AZ 86303

Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

You’re having: The Palace Corn Chowder and a Rough Rye-der, a mix of the Palace’s signature rye whiskey, apple cider, and pear bitters

Don’t miss: Regular dinner theater, like the one-man play Wyatt Earp Returns and presentations by Matt Trimble, the official state historian and a storyteller, author, and folksinger.

Best Yelp review: "We had the best meal of our stay in Prescott at The Palace. Not only that, the ambiance was magnificent! I expected Ian McShane to come down the stairs and sneer at us."

photo by: Chad Johnson/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Original elements from the bar's 1901 rebuild, including a metal ceiling, swinging saloon doors, and wooden doorways, have been preserved.

Katherine Flynn is an assistant editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys coffee, record stores, and uncovering the stories behind historic places.

@kateallthetime

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