“Stepping into The Palace Restaurant and Saloon is like stepping into a time when cowboys spent their nights drinking and gambling and enjoying the company of ladies of the evening.”
I thought that the outside was impressive. When I stepped into the large space inside which is equally fantastic! Wow, the first thing I noticed is that gorgeous 1880s’ Brunswick Bar, that is in wonderful shape. It truly is the centerpiece of the saloon.
“The bar is twenty-four feet long, hand-carved from solid oak, and also contains large columns. The bar-top is polished cherry wood, while its fixtures consist of the finest French plate glass oval top mirrors.The original bar taps are in unusual shapes such as a pistol and a figure of a cowboy.”
The ceiling is tin-pressed, not a cheap addition, but so elegant and like the original 1877 ceiling. The eating area that once held gaming tables is a very large, roomy space with stand alone wooden tables. There are also eating booths, named after famous historic patrons, such as the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday.
This restaurant and saloon make the most of this historical structure to draw in tourists as well as serving the entertainment needs of the local folks. Employees dress in 19th Century era attire, and offer full lunch and dinner selections, as well as impressive choices from the saloon’s historic, beautiful 1901 oak and cherry wood bar which has long been a favorite place to enjoy a drink. The bar offers some beers on draft, wine, mixed drinks, as well as old favorites; like Old Overholt Whisky, the drink of choice of Doc Holliday.
There is a piano and a small stage area for musical presentations, as well as an outside eating area where live music can also be performed. The owners have made good use of their outdoor eating area in the back, even during Covid limitations with limited dining.
Besides offering musical entertainment, American cuisine, and a variety of drinks that should please everyone, The Palace also features a mini-museum with antique gambling and mining displays. Walls are lined with historic photographs and taxidermy. On one of the walls, a mural that was painted for the film, “Junior Bonner” is featured.
The Palace Restaurant and Saloon was built soon after the town of Prescott began to build structures for its downtown area, in 1877. What was needed was an upscale saloon that was decorated “tastefully and lavishly.”
It became the most popular watering hole for all classes of folks in Prescott. Miners who came to town to relax and spend their earnings, enjoyed the beer, the gaming opportunities at the tables, a good meal and a roll-in-the-hay with a pretty prostitute.
Job boards in the Palace Saloon posted employment openings in Prescott. Local and national news was also available to read via the newspapers.
For area businessmen, the finest “liquors from exotic locations” from world-wide destinations were offered. Many a deal was made in the mining business at the bar.
In the 1870s’, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, and Virgil Earp came to drink at the Palace Saloon while they rested in Prescott, before making the journey to Tombstone. Wyatt and Holliday saw some action in Prescott, a precursor to what they would experience in Tombstone; battles such as the O.K. Corral.
Wyatt Earp was involved in several gunfights behind the saloon, killing two men. Holliday also killed a man in the saloon during a knife fight. Of course, it was a rough era in a rough part of town, before strong lawmen had control of the rowdies.
Disaster hit in 1883, when a raging fire burned down the saloon. Not to be defeated, the owner, Robert Brow made lemons out of lemonade and built a grander version of The Palace Saloon in a smarter way to deter fire issues. This grander, new saloon had a stone foundation, as well as brick walls to help prevent another burn-down.
What was added was a magnificent hand-carved solid oak and cherry wood long bar and back bar that was a glorious piece of furniture that really was a magnificent addition. “Built in New Jersey, the bar was freighted around the tip of South America to San Francisco, from where it was transported by pack mule to Prescott, then the territorial capital of Arizona.”
The Palace Saloon became even more admired and loved by the drinking community, though no self-respecting woman would enter. It was the ultimate drinking-man cave!
In the basement, there were dens for those who enjoyed smoking opium. The basement was connected to underground tunnels that were found under the street. These tunnels contributed to illegal vices banned above ground.
In 1901, another fire raced down the street, damaging but not destroying completely this favored structure; the Palace Saloon. Patrons carried out the long bar, the alcoholic inventory, other furniture and set up the bar in the courthouse plaza were they continued to consume their favorite drink.
The saloon was once again remodeled into even a grander version than before. This time, a neo-classical style of architecture was chosen, rebuilt with non-flammable materials: iron, granite and ornamental bricks. Once again, it became the place in town to drink, gamble and enjoy carnal pleasures.
Eventually, prostitution was outlawed and stopped, and mining ceased, but the Palace Saloon found that tourists and vacationers made up for the financial slack. Tourism dollars supplemented the financial support the business received from the locals, who still loved this place.
During Prohibition, the traditional bar on the first floor stopped serving alcohol, but people could still get a meal here on the first floor. A speakeasy was set up in the basement for people who wanted their beer and to gamble in a card game, thank you very much! A mob representative may have been present to enforce the rules when they were broken. Violating the rules set down in stone were met with severe punishment.
The Palace Saloon and restaurant soldiered on through the years: the Depression, WW2, the 50s’, 60s’ to the present 2021. Film makers and TV producers had discovered what a great place the Palace Saloon and Restaurant would be to use as a location for their projects. Films like “Wishmaker,” “Billy Jack,” “Wanda Nevada” and “Junior Bonner” as well as MVD Ghostchasers, and Ghost Adventures have filmed here.
By the time former owner Dave Michelson bought this property it had slipped a bit and could be considered to be a fixer-upper opportunity. It became his mission to completely restore this property to what it looked like inside in 1877.
Dave Michelson spent a boatload of money over the years of his ownership to fully restore the Prescott Palace Saloon. He accomplished this goal in 1996 by completing the last planned project where “the saloon underwent a retrograde renovation, restoring the interior to better reflect the time frame in which it was created, including swinging doors, hardwood floors, oak wainscoting and leaded-glass windows.”
In 2018, David Michelson sold this property to Dennis McCormick, Derry McCormick, Scott Stanford, and Martha Mekeel. They are in love with this property and are enthusiastic about their prospects here, keeping their goals in tune with those of the former owners. They knew what they were getting into, and whom they would be sharing this special building with; spirits that have connections to this place.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
The Palace Saloon is the most active paranormal building in Prescott; being continuously open since 1877, a beloved important watering hole and place to meet for years since it was first built, and rebuilt. Many people have passed through its doors, and a lot of occurrences; good and bad have happened here. There are many reasons why so many spirits reside here.
Authentic Restoration of a historic structure to its former glory; making it like it once was can act like an environmental trigger and activate spirits with different needs and agendas.
Geiser Grand Hotel, OR (The complete restoration of this once creaky fixer-upper opportunity drew a boatload of spirits who loved this place and needed it to try to find peace).
Pittock Mansion Museum, OR (The spirits of Mrs and Mr. Pittock have moved back inside their dream retirement home now that it has been completely restored).
Custer House, ND (When the blueprints that were drawn up by General Custer were used to rebuild the house, the Custer family moved back inside, along with the officers and their wives who had good memories here as well).
Palace Restaurant and Saloon, AZ (Former owner Dave Michelson’s intensive effort to fully restore this historic property drew a lot of spirits who were attached to various parts of this structure in search of peace, reliving their memories, expressing their feelings and perhaps working on what was keeping them stuck here).
People who loved a structure while alive, may like to reside or revisit it in this world as spirits. Favorite watering holes have long been popular with spirits as well as people.
Old Baraboo Inn, WI (A lot of spirits who loved this place while alive like to visit and remember great memories).
Middleton Tavern, MD (This long favored watering hole still has spirited, fun-loving spectral clientele).
General Wayne Inn, PA (The spirits of Hessians are spending their after-life here, enjoying former pleasures in their favorite watering hole).
Palace Restaurant and Saloon (Spirits of patrons from long ago still stop by for a spectral drink and see what is happening here. The cowboys at the bar and the spirit who calls himself Master Pastor is also a pleasant visitor).
Spirits of people who are brutally killed at the hands of others, sometimes return to where they were murdered, especially if they were betrayed. They are restless, sometimes angry, and are stuck searching for peace and justice.
Lumber Baron Inn, CO (Spirits of two young women who were brutally murdered still stay in their old room; watching the living and wanting their killer to be arrested).
Lizzie Borden House, MA (The spirits of the victims of the infamous, unsolved axe murder case, still occupy their home, wanting justice for their deaths).
East Wind Inn, ME (The angry, mourning spirit of a woman murdered by her beloved is still on the warpath, showing her anger at the living).
Palace Restaurant and Saloon, AZ (In 1884, a Prostitute, Jennie Clark;(aka Nellie Coyle) was stomped to death in the middle of the saloon by her gambling, opium-addicted lover, Fred Glove. No one in the saloon stopped him.).
(“Glover was tried and convicted of first degree murder, and sentenced to hang. Prior to his execution, Governor Frederick Tritle commuted the sentence to life in prison, which was further reduced in 1889 by the next governor, Oakes Murphy, and Glover was released from prison the following year.”He only served 5 years of incarceration for brutally killing Jennie; no wonder she is mad).
People who do dastardly deeds while alive, may find themselves trapped in the place of their crime as spirits.
The Old Faithful Inn, WY (The spirit of the husband who beheaded his bride and fled to join the merchant marines, finds himself stuck as a spirit, trying to apologize to his bereft bride who wanders around holding her head).
Portland’s Shanghai Tunnels, OR (The spirits of Crips who while alive kidnapped and badly mistreated women for prostitution work and men for service on ships in these underground tunnels of Portland, Oregon, are damned to stay there. They have red eyes, which is a sign of their condemnation).
Mission San Miguel, CA (The spirits of the murderous robbers who slaughtered all the members of the family who owned the inn, as well as their servants and the midwife, are trapped in this building. They are condemned to look in vain for the gold that they never found while alive, after slaughtering so many people for it).
Palace Restaurant and Saloon, AZ (A negative spirit, Fred Glover may be confined in the saloon for what he did to Jennie. An evil spirit may be present in the basement as punishment for all the killings, overdoses, misdeeds that he or she orchestrated).
(Another scarier possibility is that all the negative energy that is stuck down in the basement may have drawn in an evil, non-human entity, attracted to a negative source that he or she can feed upon. Scary stuff indeed!).
Prostitution was a risky way to make a living, as well as being perceived as a despicable low-life way to live, which made life even harder. A prostitute was always a social disgrace, could catch a sexual disease, face a dangerous abortion, be beaten up by a client or pimp, or even be murdered by a jealous boyfriend or client. The only way out was to be married to a former client.
Slippery Noodle Inn, IN (A prostitute and her client, who was a cowboy, were both killed by the prostitute’s boyfriend or admirer).
Dumas Brothel, MT (Some of the women who worked here were murdered by clients or died from taking too much of an abortion medication).
Miss Molly’s Bed and Breakfast, TX (A Prostitute died of a disease, and another woman was murdered).
Palace Restaurant and Saloon, AZ (Another prostitute by the name of Alice, also died here. She may have been murdered or died from a venereal disease, a botched abortion, a suicide or by childbirth gone wrong. Prostitutes sometimes were in poor shape because of the lifestyle they lived, making childbirth with a full term infant a hard task. Babies were often born premature and sometimes the moms died along with the child; Palace Hotel in WA).
People who lose something of great value through something they have done or by circumstances beyond their control, sometimes try as spirits to get it back to enjoy as best they can.
Hartford Twain House Museum, CT (The Mark Twain family had to sell their beloved home not only because of the sadness from a tragic loss, but because Mark Twain couldn’t handle money very well and they couldn’t afford it anymore. They have happily moved back inside, bringing their maid along as well).
Waverly House, VA (The spirit of a falsely accused former owner who lost his property when he had to leave town quickly has moved back inside as a spirit).
The Whaley House, CA (The Waverly family suffered personal and business losses and couldn’t live here. They have made up for it).
Palace Restaurant and Saloon, AZ (Mr. Nevins, the owner of Prescott’s Funeral Parlor, foolishly bet the ownership of his business on a poker game. He lost it to the town sheriff. This has made him restless indeed as he tries to enter any card game to win back his business).
Spirit of Mr. Nevins
This spirit is still frustrated and angry at himself for losing his business in a card game.
When people play cards, his unseen presence is drawn to the table, wanting to win back his mortuary, though he can’t participate.
He may be the spirit who throws glasses around.
There is an 1890 photograph of the saloon area and there appears to be the ghost of a man standing near the gambling tables.
Spirits of Jennie Clark and Alice
One or both of them have appeared at the top of the stairs.
Jennifer and/or Alice have appeared floating through the first floor saloon area.
Jennifer and Alice may take turns expressing their anger by messing up the buffet area; throwing things around to let all know that they are still mad about Jennie’s murder, that could’ve been stopped, and about the awful end suffered by Alice.
Jennie and/or Alice is thought to have thrown the porcelain mannequin from the second floor bannister to the floor below.
They may also turn the head of the replacement mannequin as if she is looking at the people on the first floor.
Spirit of Fred Glover
A negative spirit who makes his presence known in the saloon may be Fred, the killer of Jennie.
He may be stuck here because he viciously murdered a woman, and was never brought to justice.
He was convicted to die but eventually was let go.
He may be the spirit who pushed a plant off the top of the bar to try to hit the owner who was standing nearby.
Spirit of “Master Pastor”
He is a happy presence who likes to make his presence known.
He will talk to the living through EVP’s.
He likes to stomp his cowboy boots and walk around the Prescott Palace Saloon.
He may enjoy a spectral beer at the bar. Perhaps he has attached to this beautiful piece of furniture; the oak and cherry wood Brunswick bar, as well as the structure itself.
Unknown Rowdy Spirits
These spirits may have attached themselves to the original Brunswick bar or the Saloon itself as a favorite watering hole.
People sitting on the bar stools can sometimes feel a cold spot sitting on the stool next to them.
These spirits may drink too much spectral beer and are the ones responsible for throwing glasses and stuff from the bar.
They may like to push chairs across the dining room for chuckles!
Negative Spirit OR Nasty Entity?
It could be a very negative spirit who is caught here in the basement.
While alive, this spirit could’ve been a murderous brute, a bully who hurt people and enjoyed killing, which is why he is stuck here, still trying to do what he enjoyed doing while alive.
It could be an evil entity. Because of all the murders and negative events that happened here, it was allowed to come inside the basement and made a home here.
Whether a negative spirit or an evil entity, this thing lurks in the basement where the Speakeasy and opium dens were located.
The atmosphere in the basement is thick with negative energy, and is a very uncomfortable place for the living to stay for more than a few minutes.
It feeds off of fear and negative emotions of the living.
It enjoys scaring the living and making them feel pain, though he can’t kill anyone like he would like to do.
It is a bully who likes to bother and “goose” women.
It fights with force the efforts to make him leave. An experienced demonologist would have to do this job.
Owners, staff and patrons have all had paranormal experiences in this very haunted building for years, especially after it was fully restored as a labor of love by Mr. Michelen.
Ghost Adventures filmed an episode here and had their hands full with catching hard evidence of spirits who reside here. They had a scary time in the basement and caught proof of the nasty entity who makes his nest there. This investigation is Season 16, episode 3. I reviewed it on Discovery Plus, a website well worth the fee to join.
A big “Yes Indeed” is in order.
Spirits are here for a variety of reasons; to try to find peace for their restlessness, to enjoy their good memories or to relive their nightmares. Some may take it out on the living to varying degrees, though basically they are well-behaved in the saloon and restaurant.
The spectral brute / evil presence in the basement may still be a hindrance to staff who don’t like going down there to be his/her/its victim.
The spirits in the Palace Restaurant and Saloon area are accepted as being part of the building by the owners, staff and patrons. The nasty one in the basement is here to stay unless an experienced exorcist is called in to get rid of it. Perhaps the new owners did so and it is gone.
120 S. Montezuma Street,
Prescott, AZ 86303 (Whisky Row)
Palace Restaurant and Saloon can be found right in the middle of Whisky Row, between W.Gurely ST and W. Goodwin St. in the heart of historic Prescott, right across from the central park and County Court House.
- Ghost Adventures, Season 16, Episode 3 on Discovery Plus.
- Haunted Northern Arizona: Two towns with spooky tales, AAA Arizona, 1:28 PM, Oct 2, 2015