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President Arthur Peddles Cigars

Posted By: chet 10 February 2011 313 views No Comment

Uncovered: Whiskey Row store owners find wall-sized century-old cigar ads


PRESCOTT - Rich and Jenny Schulte thought it would help boost the historic look of their new Whiskey Row store to remove thepegboard and plaster on one long wall to uncover the old brick.

But they never suspected what else they’d find.

Two huge cigar ads were painted onto those bricks about a century ago when the store was the Grand Saloon.

The Schultes will leave the ads in place and display their Western items in front of the ads at their Jenny Longhorn store.

The Schultes will leave the ads in place and display their Western items in front of the ads at their Jenny Longhorn store.

“Prescott is an historic town and it’s part of its history,” Jenny said. “It tells a story.”

The building went up in 1903 after a huge 1900 fire torched much of downtown Prescott including Whiskey Row. The Grand Saloon and soon the Grand Hotel upstairs were the first businesses in the structure now at 152 and 154 1/2 Montezuma St.

The original owner was H.D. Stuthman until the property went to his wife Amelie during their divorce in 1908, according the City of Prescott’s Courthouse Plaza Historic District Survey by retired Prescott historic preservation specialist Nancy Burgess.

A 1907 phone book at the Sharlot Hall Museum lists the Grand Saloon, but it’s not in the 1923 and 1942 books.

The saloon undoubtedly had to change its name to something else when Arizona’s liquor prohibition started in 1915 until 1930 when the prohibition ended nationwide.

The front part of the building was a retail store when his late father bought it in 1949, former county judge Howard Hinson said. In the back was an assay office, locksmith and moving/storage place.

His father found a gambling table in the basement.

“I guess there was a good bit of gambling in the 1940s as well as prostitution,” Hinson said.

His father opened the Holiday Shop there. The late county supervisor Gheral Brownlow became his father’s partner in the late 1960s. Brownlow later became the shop’s sole owner and moved the shop to another downtown location in about 1984, Hinson recalled.

The upstairs remains a rooming house today called the Grand Highland Hotel.

The store already had plastered walls when his father bought it, so he didn’t see the cigar ads until they were uncovered last week.

“It’s really interesting,” he said.

When the Jenny Longhorn store first opened in September, the Schultes exposed only a small portion of one of the ads near one of the front display windows. Passersby could see only two letters - “ur” - so they’ve been curious for months to see the entire ad.

“You wouldn’t believe the number of people who had their face against the window to see what it is,” Jenny said.

“Arthur” was the word containing the “ur” - that’s for Chester Arthur, the country’s 21st president. The entire ad, about 10 feet by 10 feet in size, says “Try a Gen. Arthur” and features a man pointing at onlookers.

President Arthur was a Civil War brigadier general who was vice president until President James Garfield was assassinated. He was known for accompanying White House meals with cigars and champagne.

The company that sold Gen. Arthur cigars, called General Cigar Corp. at the time, went out of business in 1917.

The other cigar ad is even larger - about 30 feet long and 6 feet high. It says “Owl 5¢ cigar” and features a painted owl.

Between the ads is painted “Connelly S.F.,” possibly the name of the artist.

The ads are extensively pocked with chipped spots, probably from nails that held the plaster to the painted brick, Rich surmised.

The brick is likely from Prescott because it has the telltale signs of soft, low-quality brick. Most of the brick that business owners used to rebuild their structures after the 1900 fire was the low-cost Prescott brick, said Prescott Historic Preservation Specialist Cat Moody. The local firing facilities were inferior, she said. The bricks have an orange tint, and are chalky and powdery in places.

“If it’s ever painted, it can’t be stripped,” or that would “undermine the integrity” of the structure, Moody warned. It’s also impossible to pressure-wash and restore it on the outside, she said.

So it sounds like the ads will stay where they are.

Who knows what’s hidden behind the other long wall.

“Ultimately, we’d like to expose that too,” Jenny said.

The bead shop in back also remains covered with the plaster.

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