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New Braunfels’ Historic ‘Phoenix Saloon’ Receives Marker from Texas State Historical Commission

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Like its namesake, New Braunfels’ legendary Phoenix Saloon has once again risen from the ashes. The Texas State Historical Commission designated the saloon as one of the 173 sites to receive a historical marker in 2016 and representatives from the TSHC will be on hand Tuesday, March 22nd to unveil the marker. The Phoenix Saloon has certainly earned this honor with a colorful history that helped shape New Braunfels and the surrounding Hill Country.

Black and white photo of interior of the Phoenix Saloon with business cards in foreground

Photo: www.thephoenixsaloon.com

Built in 1871 by John Sipple, the brick building located on West San Antonio Street has been a backdrop for many notable events in Texas history. The Phoenix Saloon has been credited for being the first bar in Texas to serve women (albeit in the garden patio). The saloon also set themselves apart by housing an alligator pit, a deer pen, and a parrot that made sure you settled your tab before you left. 1894 was a milestone year, when proprietor William Gebhardt devised a method of crushing and drying ancho chilis, thereby producing the first ever chili powder. When the Wartime Prohibition Act of 1918 was passed, the Phoenix Saloon officially closed it doors and a department store opened in its place. Secretly, however, the saloon continued supplying beer from a hidden brewery located in the basement and distributing it via underground tunnels, many of which are still in existence today. The building continued to house various retail and service business for the next 90 years. As with any historic building, countless people have even reported seeing the ghost of former proprietors roam the third floor and various hallways.

Black and white photo of vintage vehicle parked in front of the Phoenix Saloon in New Braunfels, Texas
Photo:  www.tumblr.com

In 2010, the building underwent extensive renovation, eventually reopening its doors as Phoenix Saloon. Many items from the original bar and department store were refurbished and re-purposed, ensuring the saloon stayed true to its historic roots. Today, customers come from miles around to enjoy a bowl of their famous Texas Red Chili and an ice cold brew while listening to live music on the wooden stage.

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