Historic bar on loan

2011-10-27T00:00:00Z Historic bar on loanBy Tim Trainor of The Montana Standard Montana Standard
October 27, 2011 12:00 am  • 

Customers of a new distillery will have the opportunity to lean upon a relic of one of Butte’s most famous hotspots while enjoying the local spirits. 

The back bar from the Rocky Mountain Café, which operated in Meaderville from the 1920s to 1960s, has been loaned by the World Museum of Mining to Headframe Spirits.

The distillery is expected to open by January 2012 and the centerpiece of the taste room will be the 24-foot, eight-piece mahogany and oak bar and back bar made in the early 1900s. It was the centerpiece of the Rocky Mountain Café, one of Butte’s most acclaimed restaurants and nightclubs, and the pride of one of its most colorful citizens.

According to news stories, the Rocky Mountain was owned by Teddy Traparish, a native of Dubrovnik in modern-day Croatia, who came to Butte in 1906 at the age of 19. He worked his way up from swamper to part owner in numerous restaurants and bars in town.

In 1929, after the stock market crash, Traparish opened the Rocky Mountain Café with partners Peter Antonioli and Louis Bugni. The nightclub, bar and restaurant featured a dance floor and orchestra, a gambling room, coal-fired ranges and a bar, despite the presence of Prohibition.

By 1935, the bar began to draw national attention; positive reviews appeared in the Saturday Evening Post and Readers Digest and in national newspapers including the Chicago Tribune and New York Times.

In 1961, with open-pit mining having destroyed much of Meaderville, Traparish closed the café. In 1966, he donated the back bar to the World Museum of Mining.

Traparish was famous for buying a new Cadillac every year for more than 50 years. He died in 1971 following a stroke.

Tina Davis, executive director of the World Museum of Mining, said the bar had not been on display at the museum since about 2003 and experts worried that continued storage could harm the piece. 

Davis said it was a “difficult decision” for the board to lend such an historic piece.

However, she said after a long vetting process and promises that it would be cared for and restored, the museum board agreed to lease the back bar “for the restoration and protection of the artifact” and so that it could “be back in an environment where it could be seen.”

— Reporter Tim Trainor may be reached via e-mail at tim.trainor@lee.net or phone at 496-5519. Follow him at Twitter.com/@Tim_Trainor.

Copyright 2015 Montana Standard. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(8) Comments

  1. coldhardfacts
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    coldhardfacts - October 28, 2011 12:15 pm
    DrivebyGravy said: "this town is so driven by alcohol ! "

    What's your point?

    Glad to see the it will be used and help a fledgling business out in the process.

    A win-win as far as I am concerned!
  2. soreallysowhat
    Report Abuse
    soreallysowhat - October 28, 2011 10:51 am
    Really, my comments are really that bad as not to be published? I pay my money to view and yet I still get censored? All I said was,"Who says Butte doesn't know how to preserve its history?"
  3. DrivebyGravy
    Report Abuse
    DrivebyGravy - October 28, 2011 9:07 am
    this town is so driven by alcohol !
  4. DrivebyGravy
    Report Abuse
    DrivebyGravy - October 28, 2011 6:51 am
    How much lease payment?

  5. olylaw
    Report Abuse
    olylaw - October 27, 2011 9:52 pm
    Many memories when it closed in 1960 Charley Reed and I bought all the open bottles [as is] behind the bar. My Mother Rose McGee was a nurse at Murray Hospital in the early 1900's and took care of Teddy who broke both legs working on the railroad. He got a huge settlement from the companty of $500, gambled it and the rest is history.
  6. bob
    Report Abuse
    bob - October 27, 2011 2:17 pm
    Nice. Should not have been such a difficult decision though.
  7. mtdutch101
    Report Abuse
    mtdutch101 - October 27, 2011 10:53 am
    Sure, it should have been sold, so that in the unfortunate event that the business doesn't work out, a piece of Butte history gets sold into some rich dudes rec-room in California, never to be seen again.

    I know there always has to be some troll being a wet blanket on anything good in Butte, but if the museum isn't displaying it to its advantage, this seems to be a great way to make the bar back a working part of history, while maintaining some control of a piece of Meaderville's past.
  8. DrivebyGravy
    Report Abuse
    DrivebyGravy - October 27, 2011 6:48 am
    Great but it should have been sold not ,on loan, Special deals huh

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