Jim Vizina Started It All
On the Northeast corner of Allen & 5th Streets, Jim partnered with Benjamin Cook to construct the original building. It contained the Oriental Saloon, but also a furniture store, dry goods store & a bank.
The building was referred to as the Vizina & Cook Building. It brought the partners a rental income of $560/month. Milton Joyce was the 1st to lease the corner space to create the Saloon. He named it the Oriental.
Opening day was July 21, 1880. He hired Lou Rickabaugh’s group to run the gaming.
Joyce is In & Then Out
The Oriental Saloon had occasions to make the local news. It would do so more than once over the years. You may have noted it was featured, along with Milton Joyce, in the Film Tombstone.
It was the trouble with law enforcement that attached it at times to the Oriental. Seems the Cowboys were often right around that corner of Allen & 5th, many times just about out in front of the Oriental Saloon. Having their fun.
One of the incidents that made it through history was the killing of Charlie Storms by Luke Short. The Oriental was getting a reputation as a “slaughter house” in some circles. Joyce decided to close down the gaming there.
By the end of the next year, Joyce was done! Plus he had so much more going on for himself. He decided to sell his Oriental interest to Rickabaugh.
A Most Famous Nearby Shooting
1st Fire Disaster!
2 awful fire events affected the Oriental Saloon. The 1st one was the worst of all!
The middle of the afternoon of June 22, 1881 a fire began – explosively! It surged from 3 doors East of the Oriental to the saloon. It spread through voraciously!
Milton Joyce was just able to get the cash box from the safe. About 1 hour later the Oriental Saloon was destroyed. Of 66 businesses gone or severely messed up, Vizina & Cook had the biggest insurance loss.
Rebuild – But Watch Out!!
Vizina & Cook got 100 workers to start construction on the same spot. Clearing away destruction, they rebuilt.
On mid afternoon May 26, 1882 – this day is memorable in Tombstone History! Horrific, really. Flames again began on Allen St., between 4th & 5th. They spread East – heading toward the Oriental.
Thankfully it wasn’t a windy day! Police Officers & fire-fighters battled flames. They held off roaring embers right there on that corner of 5th & Allen.
The Golden Eagle Brewery was gone, but the Oriental survived! A bucket brigade continually doused water over the building’s areas. There was nominal damage amounting to $2000.
The defenders were rewarded with drinks from the bottles inside that were saved. All they wanted!!
Survives Through Til Today!
Over the years the Vizina & Cook building that held the Oriental Saloon, has been reinvented as many different types of facilities. Most recently as a women’s clothing store on the corner & a gift shop immediately to the East.
The most recent renewal is “Back to History!” We gave some hints about this last time. Many are so very happy about this!! Thanks to R.J., from the Crystal Palace Saloon, across the street, the Oriental Saloon is now reopened again!
It’s something you’ll want to put on your visiting list! Many plans in the works – see our interview with R.J. below, about what’s going on there!!
Often see historical buildings in town that we’d like to know more about. We want to know who’s behind making them even better for our inquiring minds! And what were the true facts for the people who roamed these Tombstone saloons, & the Old West. We try to find out what we can – accurately.
And we enjoy sharing what we find with you.
We hope we’ll see you in town sometime, seeing areas where they spent time – back in the 1800s.
Let us know if you’ll be going to an upcoming event! Tell us how you liked any of them, or what you visited here! Just reply to this newsletter for easy input! (Let us know if we can use your comments – & how/if (anonymous?) to credit you.