It’s Friday! So before you mix that martini, check out the stunning Club Moderne.
Truly a sight to behold, Club Moderne just might be the most charming small-town bar in America. Constructed in 1937 in Anaconda, Montana, the small but striking Streamline Moderne bar with its rounded façade sheathed in Carrara glass panels embodies the sleek stylings of the Art Deco age. Designed by Fred F. Willson, an architect based in Bozeman, and constructed by local carpenters, the building was essentially the vision of John “Skinny” Francisco, the club's owner. Described as a "world traveler," Francisco likely came up with the moderne design after visiting other establishments across the country.
During the last eighty years, Club Moderne has remained a beloved watering hole. With its unique, eye-catching architecture and celebrated customer service, the bar has even gained a following with tourists and architecture lovers looking to have a drink at the well-preserved icon. Often described as a time capsule, Club Moderne was named “America’s Favorite Historic Bar” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2016.
When it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Club Moderne had changed very little since it opened with a big celebration on October 9, 1937. The interior still maintained much of its original detailing, including woodwork, hardware, leather furniture, and Formica tables. While its original neon sign, a bright reminder of a modern aesthetic, continued to glow over its corner location.
But here's the sad twist- late last year, the little bar that had flourished for close to a century almost didn't survive a tragic fire. On the night of October 3, 2016, the historic building burned as heartbroken locals watched in disbelief. Though much of the original fabric was lost, Club Moderne's owners promised to rebuild. And lucky for us, this story has a happy ending. Last spring, after replacement of much of the interior and the restoration of that famous facade, the bar reopened just as it did almost eight decades before- with one big party.
Happy Friday and Long Live Club Moderne!
Image at top: Historic American Buildings Survey, Lowe, Jet, photographer. Anaconda Historic District, Club Moderne, 801 East Park Avenue, Anaconda, Deer Lodge County, MT. Photograph. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, mt0104.
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