The Palace Saloon opened its doors in 1906. Colorful characters, outlaws, celebrities, and countless legions of thirsty Route 66 travelers have bellied up to the bar over the years. But I would be willing to bet that never in its history has there been an evening like October 12, 2023.
Henry Lovin opened the Palace Saloon after a fire had erased most buildings along Front Street, now Route 66, in Kingman, Arizona. It was built of stone and concrete, and promoted as Kingman’s only fire proof saloon. Henry Lovin’s fascinating story, and the history of the saloon, is told in the innovative narrated self guided historic district walking tour developed by Kingman Main Street.
At some point in its history the name was changed to Sportman’s Club. But aside from the signage little has changed. This venerable old saloon is an Arizona territorial era tie capsule.
Attesting to its unique place in Kingman and Route 66 history is its inclusion as a point of interest in the Route 66 Navigation app. The app developed by Touch Media, a company based in Bratislava, Slovakia illustrates the international nature of Route 66 in the modern era. And it is just one connection with the international Route 66 community.
On October 12, Doga, the acclaimed Czech heavy metal band kicked off their first Route 66 pub tour with a performance at Sportsman’s Club. Accompanying the band on the tour developed by Zdenek Jurasek of the Czech Route 66 Association were thirty fans from central Europe. A film crew also is a part of the tour as it is being filmed for a forthcoming documentary.
Until quite recently the old Palace Saloon was the only operating business in what was once the very heart of Kingman. Dominating the block between Third and Fourth Street are the long shuttered Hotel Beale and Hotel Brunswick. The Lovin Building on one corner, and Desert Drug, Frontier Cafe, and Frontier Lounge on the other, were razed years ago.
But times do change. The Old Trails Garage that dates to 1915 is still used for storage by the owner. But the facade has been renovated with perioed correct signage, and a circa 1930 Packard sign again glows bright. The Arizona Store that opened in 1910 as a one stop shop for mining and ranch supplies is now Garibaldi’s Restaurant. And work is well underway to give the Brunswick Hotel a new lease on life.
Times change. There is an ebb and flow to most communities. Kingman is not an exception. But occasionally you will find one of those special places where time seems to have stood still. Personally, I am atracted to places such as the Sportsman’s Club like a moth to a flame. I suppose that this is rather fiting as Jim Hinckley’s America is built on a passion for sharing America’s story.