Welcome to the Genoa Bar and Saloon, Nevada’s Oldest Thirst Parlor!
Our guests always have many questions, and I hope to answer some of them for you…
First of all…the building was built in 1853 and I was first open for business as Livingston’s Exchange, then renamed “Fettic’s Exchange” in 1884 and operated by Frank Fettic. I was well known as a “gentleman’s saloon” back then and I was “kept in first-class style in every particular way.” Mr. Fettic served fine wines, liquors, and cigars. According to one of his advertisements, ” would be pleased to have all my old friends call, and they would be treated in the most cordial manner.”
I have changed hands many times over the years and in 1963, I was bought by the Bob and Betty Carver family who ran my great establishment until 2000, when they retired and sold the bar to Willy and Cindy Webb.
The top of my bar is original from the front to mid-way where you’ll see a line across it. The medallions on the ceiling above the lights are original as is the one red oil lamp which is lit every New Year’s Eve. The electric lamps are also original to the bar and were oil but converted to electricity at the turn of the century. I’m kept warm in winter by the woodstove,and since it’s the only source of heat, the locals often bring in firewood when I’m getting low. And, no, those are not blood stains you see on the ceiling (it’s tomato juice) while there have been many rough and tumbles here, no one was ever killed. And yes, we grow our own cobwebs here too.
The Diamond Dust Mirror on the back of the bar came from Glasgow, Scotland, in the late 1840’s. It was shipped around the “horn” to San Francisco, then brought here by covered wagon. Originally, there were two mirrors, but one was sold to a movie company in the 1930’s during the great depression. If you shine a flashlight in the mirror, you can see the diamond dust! The mirror has only been out of the saloon three times in it’s history, the last time in 1910 when it was saved from the great Genoa Fire which destroyed most of the town.
If you look on the floor on the left side of the pool table, you’ll see a trap door which leads down to the cold storage cellar. Ice was packed in burlap and straw and transported by mule down from two small lakes in the mountains behind me. There are many stories about the cellar -drunks are thrown down there to “sleep it off” -dancing girls come out at night -the local kids have all been taught that alligators and monsters live down there!
Many famous people have visited over the years. Among them, Mark Twain when he first reported for the Territorial Enterprise which opened in Genoa before moving to Virginia City. Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt enjoyed “cool ones”, perhaps right where you’re standing. Carol Lombard and Clark Gable came here to play high stakes poker games with the local cattle barons. Among the other famous and infamous, Lauren Bacall, Richard Boone, Ronnie Howard, Red Skelton, Cliff Robertson and all of our Nevada Governors have come through my doors.
When Raquel Welch visited us, she was asked to leave her bra. She agreed but insisted that all the other bras be taken down -and they were! Her’s is the black leopard print hanging on the antlers though it’s so dusty now, you can’t really tell. It wouldn’t be right to exclude anyone, so I take lingere “donations” kept in the old safe. Go ahead and peek, but remember, the custom is: if you open the door to the safe, a donation is required!
A number of movies have been filmed here including “The Shootist” with John Wayne, “Charley Varrick” with Walter Mathau and Joe Don Baker, “Honky Tonk Man” with Clint Eastwood, “Misery” with James Cann, Kathy Bates, Rob Reiner and Richard Farnsworth, and most recently, (last summer) “Till the River Runs Dry” starring Ann-Margaret.
Around the mid-1980’s the Coor’s Beer Company came here to film a commercial. Unfortunately, the local gentlemen who were extras, didn’t like Coor’s. They emptied their cans, filled them with Budweiser, and proceeded with the filming!
Musicians seem to gravitate here. I’ve welcomed Willie Nelson, Charlie Daniels, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Slim Pickens, John Denver, and the Captain and Tennille to name just a few.
There have been a lot of “high old times” within these walls over the years and that tradition continues to this day. When the weather is warm, impromptu “porch parties” happen and there can be dancing in the streets. On cold winter evenings when the snow is falling, nothing beats the wood stove and good friends for a couple of hours.
I continue to be a “drinking establishment” notwithstanding the pool table and jukebox -I’m proud that our lady friends feel comfortable and safe here -I watch out for everyone in this little corner of history. I’m delighted that you stopped by to share your time with me!