Genoa Saloon sold after 37 years
Nevada’s oldest saloon has new owners, who say they’ll keep it pretty much the way fun-loving patrons – the sober ones, at least – remember.
Final paperwork on the $625,000 sale of the Genoa Bar & Saloon was completed Tuesday. The Carver family, which has owned it since 1963, sold to local contractors Cliff Scott, Bill Webb and Shawn Hall.
“All I can say is, it’s been a great ride. I wish all the luck to the new owners,” said Torke Carver, whose mother, Betty, died Tuesday after a lengthy illness. His father, Bob, a local legend because of his crusty manner as a barkeep, is in a rest home.
Until now, repeated offers – some for much more than the selling price – had been rejected by the Carvers.
“But everything just kind of clicked this time,” Scott said.
“We were in the right place at the right time with the right people,” Webb added.
“We all love Nevada, so it feels good to have a little piece of its history,” said Hall, who along with his partners has lived in the area since the 1970s. The Genoa Bar & Saloon has withstood all sorts of challenges to its claim as Nevada’s oldest thirst parlor, dating to late 1863 when it opened as “Livingston’s Exchange.”
The Carvers said the challengers were all wet and that their bar might have been damaged by a fire or two, but it never moved and never has been anything else – even during Prohibition.
The claim is backed by state Archivist Guy Rocha, who says he concurs with earlier research by historian Phillip Earl who determined the Delta Saloon in nearby Virginia City started in 1862 – but that bar moved and also had to be completely rebuilt at least once.
Genoa, which claims its mid-1851 start makes it Nevada’s first permanent settlement by non-Indians, has gone through big changes recently, as people build expensive trophy homes overlooking nearby ranches-turned-golf courses. But the three new owners say they’ll keep the saloon’s well-worn plank floor, its long bar, a huge, diamond-dust mirror shipped around Cape Horn in the mid-1800s, and scores of dusty signs, paintings, photos, posters andother bits of memorabilia tacked onto its dark, cracked walls over the years.
One poster offers a reward for the capture of President Lincoln’s assassin. Another shows the Three Stooges – with President Clinton’s face pasted over Curly’s.
A brassiere, supposedly left 15 or 20 years ago by actress Raquel Welch, hangs from deer antlers.
“We just want to restore the place,” Scott said. “I’ve seen some old pictures when it looked classy. I’d like to get it back to that.”
“Some people really want the cobwebs to stay,” Webb said. “But the first thing nine out of 10 people ask is, ‘Are you going to clean it up?’ So we’re trying to reach a compromise. For now, the cobwebs will stay.
“We heard stories about people who wanted to buy it and paint the walls white. I can’t imagine anyone thinking that way. We’re going to preserve it.”