This bar — all 16 feet of glowing oak, smooth columns and triple-mirrored back — survived 120 years and 500 miles to end up on display just south of downtown Denver, if the story is true.
And Chris Hoar wants the story to be true.
The co-owner of Salvage Design Center doesn’t just deal in old door knobs, reclaimed lumber and architectural survivors. He also sells history.
“We like to have the story of everything we have here,” he said. “It actually helps with the value, too.”
But he doesn’t know enough about the bar and back bar he’s trying to sell for nearly $100,000. Only what the previous owner told him: They began life in a downtown Lincoln saloon in 1901, and later served another establishment, somewhere in Nebraska.
The rest of the story is so important he’s offering a small reward — $100 — if he can verify the bar’s early history with photographic evidence.
His business bought the bar about a year ago from Ken Barnes, another Denver dealer.
Barnes specializes in antique bars. He sold an old back bar he found in Tucson, Arizona, to someone in Maine this week. Asking price: $49,000. He sold an 1879 back bar from Wild Bill Hickok’s days in Deadwood, South Dakota, that he’d listed for nearly $200,000.
His memory of the Lincoln bar’s story is a bit dusty, because he bought that one about a decade ago.
“It was all in original condition when we got it,” he said. “It did a little bit of drinking around Lincoln.”
He can’t remember the name of the Nebraska dealer who found it for him, but he recalled the man telling him it originally came out of a downtown saloon. And that it then served a country-themed dinner theater, maybe in north Lincoln, maybe north of Lincoln.
That stumped local historians, though Sid Conner, of Conner’s Architectural Antiques, and Ed Zimmer, the city’s historic preservation planner, both thought of Brittany’s — the former four-star restaurant just south of Barry’s on Ninth Street.
Brittany’s had ended up with the ornate, turn-of-the-century back bar that had been a fixture for decades at the long-gone Hob Nob.
“It was killer, over the top,” Conner said. “It was really something else.”
Sorry, but wrong bar, said Tom Bittinger, who owned Brittany’s and examined a photo of the Lincoln bar for sale in Denver.
His bar had four carved mermaids, three arches and onyx aquariums.
Barnes restored the Lincoln bar about five years ago. Every piece, taken apart and put back together. All the wiring redone. The grandeur restored.
And now the old bar is as good as new, Hoar said.
“It works. We test it every night at 5.”