The rebuilt Crystal Palace Tombstone AZ, Allen Street in 1882, after the devastating May fire - on the NW Corner (seen on the right).
The Crystal Palace of Tombstone is your authentic piece of Saloon history in relation to vintage Arizona. How do we know? You could say we're kind-of regulars there! We go in there often enough to have a refreshment, or a meal. We love the historic ambiance. Yes, we pretty much know lots about this town's history - Tombstone, Arizona. (And we're always learning more!) And so, we especially love this historical corner. Yes, we love it!
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The Historic Crystal Palace Saloon Today
So, what is there about Tombstone's Crystal Palace that makes it special? Let's see...
Originated in 1800 as the Golden Eagle Brewery
Burnt down in the devastating 1882 town fire. But was soon rebuilt in the same spot, as the renamed Crystal Palace Saloon
Reinvented itself for awhile as a theater
After prohibition, back in business as a restored saloon!!
Still open today: as the Crystal Palace Saloon, Tombstone AZ
The Crystal Palace Tombstone is the only bar / saloon in the city of Tombstone that is still open (Bird Cage is another authentic building with a historic Old West Bar) from the 1880s until now, and so is historically authentic. With much of the original structure.
Isaiah the singing bartender at Friday night Karaoke!
A Saturday Night Band - Come Over & Dance!
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Crystal Palace Bartender "Hall of Fame"
Heather tending bar while taking a call.
Robin whips up a milkshake for kids!
Historical Timeline of The Crystal Palace, Tombstone
Godfrey Tribolet was a Swiss immigrant. He moved to Charleston, nearby the San Pedro River in Arizona Territory. He became a journeyman butcher. Saved his money with plans to open a business.
Godfrey moved to Tombstone since it was a mining boom-town. That's where he decided to open a butcher market. His two younger brothers were also involved: Manfred and Charles.
Crystal Palace Tombstone's Old Wild West Timeline
Late 1879 - Godfrey Tribolet partners with brew-master Bernhardt Wehrfritz to run a place called The Golden Eagle Brewery on Allen & Fifth Streets, Tombstone AZ. Godfrey ran the attached beef products shop, with a lunch counter.
Phoenix Weekly Republican, Friday, October 31, 1879 - Page 4
During 1880 The Golden Eagle had the beer supply in Southeastern AZ. Their bar and food business at the corner of 5th & Allen was very successful [Bailey, L.R., 2004, Too tough to die, Tucson AZ].
On June 22, 1881 a fire rages through a section of downtown Tombstone. The flames race right up to the building directly across the street - and the Golden Eagle Brewery was spared.
February 26, 1882 Ben Wehrfritz interferes with an officer breaking up a fight between his bartender, Mr. Forster, and a local man. All 3 are arrested!
April 24, 1882 - Ben's business still was doing well. He promoted it by making the local news publications aware of his quality updates.
Tombstone Weekly Epitaph, Monday, April 24, 1882 - Page 5
A Devastating Tombstone Fire
May 26, 1882 - Mid-afternoon, a fire blazed through Tombstone's business district. Starting on Allen St., West of the Golden Eagle Brewery, it spread East. It consumed the entire block, including the Golden Eagle. Bucket brigades only saved a few buildings.
Aftermath of the May 1882 Tombstone Fire
Weekly Arizona Miner, Friday - June 2, 1882
June 24, 1882 - Ben Wehrfritz is involved in completing his new building on the corner of Allen Street and Fifth Street. One of the workers suffers an injury.
Tombstone Weekly Epitaph, Saturday, June 24, 1882 - Page 3
July 22, 1882 - Ben Wehrfritz reopened his business on the corner of Fifth and Allen Streets. He renamed his Tombstone enterprise - The Crystal Palace Saloon. [Bailey, L.R., 2004, Too tough to die, Tucson AZ].
July 23, 1882 - The Epitaph reports on the previous night's Grand Opening, naming it "the finest saloon in the Territory." [Weekly Epitaph, July 23, 1882]
April 11, 1885 - Tombstone's Crystal Palace had been closed down for awhile. Proprietors Ben Wehrfritz and J. Caesar now advertised a Grand Reopening of the Crystal Palace, Tombstone.
July 20, 1885 - The Daily Tombstone published a Crystal Palace write-up. They reminisced its history: "known in the early days of the camp as the Golden Eagle Brewery..."
All through 1885 and into 1886 The Crystal Palace ran regular bit marketing ads and newsy items in the local papers. Occasional mentions were noted when incidents occurred in the saloon.
Arizona Daily Star, Friday - August 14, 1885
The Daily Tombstone, Tuesday, September 22, 1885
January 31, 1886 - The Tombstone Daily Epitaph published a small news item: C.A. Arnold is trying to buy the Crystal Palace. Other than that, we don't see much more about it, as you can see from these ads (both starting on the dates listed at the ad's end & running tf - "til further notice":
The Daily Tombstone, Tuesday - January 19, 1886
The Daily Tombstone Tuesday - February 23, 1886
April 10, 1886 - The Tombstone Daily Epitaph posted a Trustee Sale notice that exposes the Wehrfritz and Caesar partnership problems.
April 11, 1886 - For Sale ads consistently began appearing in The Arizona Daily Star, out of Tucson. They offered the real estate and barroom fixtures of the Crystal Palace Tombstone.
May 2, 1886 - A notice is published in The Tombstone Daily Epitaph to indicate Wehrfritz and Caesar's partnership was dissolved. Caesar is now declared sole owner of the Crystal Palace.
May 22, 1886 - Julius Caesar, the Crystal Palace proprietor, is reported by the Daily Tombstone in a very small item, to be seriously ill.
June 30, 1886 - It appears Caesar made a recovery. Today's Daily Tombstone announced he "will open an elegant lunch counter in the rear of the Crystal Palace saloon in a few days."
November 12, 1886 - A small comment by The Daily Tombstone notes the singer from the Crystal Palace was now on the Stagecoach on her way out of town.
Caesar took on a new partner: W.H. Curnow. He's first mentioned in a February 22, 1887 Tombstone Daily Epitaph news item. It described a group of Salvation Army singers getting his permission to come into the Crystal Palace to sing.
Epitaph's Local Notes - March 9, 1887
May 3, 1887 - An earthquake centered in Sonora Mexico rattled Tombstone. The Crystal Palace's chandeliers shook heavily.
October 1, 1887 - A small Territorial News piece announced another Crystal ownership change in The Tombstone Epitaph. Named was Dick Clark.
August 4, 1889 - Julius Caesar is again referenced with the Crystal Palace Tombstone! A mysterious ad appears in the Tombstone Daily Epitaph!!
Tombstone Daily Epitaph, Wednesday - August 7, 1889
August 7, 1889 - The mystery is solved! A Tombstone Daily Epitaph announcement notes the former "canary" voiced singer from back in the Wehrfritz days has returned as an entertainer.
November 22, 1889 - A small announcement placed in the Tombstone Daily Epitaph "Local Happenings" states a new singer appearing that night at the Crystal Palace.
December 14, 1889 - They're regularly noting a Miss Cushman. The notice says their new singer at "the Crystal Palace draws large crowds every night..."
May 3, 1890 - A commentary piece reported in the Tombstone Weekly Epitaph. A "Lady of the Evening" came into the Crystal Palace. She had too much to drink, and danced the "can can." Two lawmen there allowed her to continue. The writer was not pleased!
July 3, 1890 - Now Edith Smith is the entertainment at the Crystal Palace: Tombstone Prospector ad.
July 2, 1890 - A Tombstone Prospector ad announces Paul Warnekros has rented the ice house and store room of the Crystal Palace. He's just received a supply of the "celebrated Schlitz Keg Beer direct from Milwaukee."
July 11, 1890 - A Tombstone Prospector announcement says Joe Bignon is now the proprietor of the Crystal Palace. It states there will be changes. It's also announced in the Weekly Epitaph the next day.
July 19, 1890 - The first announcement under the new ownership shows Joe's new plans for the saloon: a theater.
Tombstone Weekly Epitaph, Saturday - July 19, 1890
August 1, 1890 - Paul Warnekros continued to advertise in the Tombstone Prospector about his rental within the Crystal Palace.
September 9, 1890 - An ad appears in the Tombstone Prospector saying Frank Black starts a Keno game at the Crystal Palace.
May 29, 1892 - J. Bignon placed an ad in the Tombstone Weekly Epitaph that a raffle for a gold watch was held at the Crystal Palace on May 28th.
June 12, 1892 - In this issue of the Weekly Epitaph, two related announcements appeared. The first said Joe Bignon will "retire from management of the Crystal Palace saloon to-day..." The second says the "saloon was closed to-day for extensive repairs..."
July 24, 1892 - A Crystal Palace update appeared in the Tombstone Weekly Epitaph: "New paper and ceiling decorations..."
July 29, 1894 - A small piece in the Tombstone Weekly Epitaph remarks on the dangerous condition of the sidewalk on 5th Street next to the Crystal Palace
December 15, 1895 - Weekly Epitaph notice: Martin Costello won the judgment bid on 12/14/1885 for Tombstone's Crystal Palace.
May 18, 1902 - The Tombstone Weekly Epitaph expresses the expectation that the Crystal Palace, along with the Oriental, will reopen.
November 9, 1902 - The Weekly Epitaph describes the Crystal Palace remodel. They note its historical properties.
Tombstone Weekly Epitaph, Sunday, November 9, 1902 - Page 1
December 21, 1902 - The Epitaph announced those behind the reopen of Tombstone's Crystal Palace Saloon: E. Maden, J.M. Speck, Senator Freeze, O.E. Robbins. The same day they have an article with the Grand Opening announcement.
August 19, 1906 - An announcement in the Tombstone Weekly Epitaph states that J.M. Speck is now the single owner of the Crystal Palace.
January 29, 1922 - An article appeared in the Weekly Epitaph details the Crystal Palace's improvements in getting an interior and exterior overhaul for its Tombstone theater productions.
February 3, 1922 - The Arizona Daily Star's feature adds more detail to the Crystal Palace's updates. It notes Mary Costello owns the building. The Gaicoma brothers had leased it for the past 5 years when they made it into a theater. It described it as "second to none in the state."
December 9, 1922 - An article in the El Paso Herald gives an overview of Tombstone's history, noting "the famous Crystal Palace gaming hall is a prosaic Crystal theater..." They describe how the historically blood-soaked dirt street out front was now being paved with asphalt.