The Bird Cage on Whiskey RowPosted: Updated:
A little more than three years after a massive fire decimated part of Prescott's famous Whiskey Row (formally known as the 100 block of South Montezuma Street), it's business as usual.
A kitchen fire sparked the May 2012 fire that swept through the Bird Cage Saloon, Pearl's Place Café and the Prescott Food Store.
Just last year, the lot where the unsalvageable building was demolished was turned into an outdoor venue with space for as many as 500 people.
The 2012 fire was the third blaze to rip through Whiskey Row. The first time was in July 1883. The second time was in July 1900. It's believed that a miner left a lit candle stuck in the wall of his room at the O.K. Lodging House. That fast-moving fire also destroyed all of Gurley Street and most of North Cortez Street. New construction on Whiskey Row was underway within days, only this time brick and stone were used. No more wood.
The building that housed the Bird Cage Saloon, Pearl's Place Café and the Prescott Food store was one of those built after the Great Fire of 1900. It stood for more than 100 years.
Still standing today is another gathering spot that was rebuilt after the fire -- the Palace Saloon. When it reopened in 1901, many called it "the most beautiful saloon in all of Arizona." Now known as The Palace Restaurant and Saloon, it's still the oldest frontier saloon in the state. Not all of The Palace's history went up in smoke in 1900. Patrons of The Palace saved the massive 1800s Brunswick Bar by carrying it to the plaza across the street. That bar is still in use today.
So, why is the 100 block of South Montezuma Street called Whiskey Row? That one block once hosted more than 40 saloons.
That block has been known as Whiskey Row for decades, but there was a push in 2012 – after the fire – to officially rename it Historic Whiskey Row. City councilors denied the petition.
Official address or not, Whiskey Row is how the block is known far and wide.
Today, one of the signature bars on "The Row" is the Bird Cage Saloon. A little more than a year after the 2012 fire, the iconic Bird Cage Saloon sign returned to Whiskey Row at a new location, just a few doors down from its original address. It's the only one of the three destroyed businesses to rebuild.
Although the fired destroyed most of the extensive collection of taxidermy birds that was part of the bar's charm (the birds are what gave the place its name), fans of the Bird Cage have donated pieces for display.
Another popular Whiskey Row joint is Devil's Pantry, where "the best food from the state fair meets the microbrewery." The place just celebrated its third anniversary last month.