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A good sign: Bird Cage Saloon shingle returns to Whiskey Row

Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier
Owners John and Debi Stamm are all smiles as the restored Bird Cage Saloon sign is installed. The Bird Cage is scheduled to reopen Memorial Day weekend.

PRESCOTT - The distinctive Bird Cage Saloon sign is back on Prescott's Whiskey Row, lighting up the night just five doors south of its original location.

"I am so excited, I am just so excited!" saloon co-owner Debi Stamm exclaimed Monday as workers used a crane to lift the 200-pound sign over a wire to the top of its new home at 160 S. Montezuma.

"My face hurt so much from smiling," she said of Monday's sign-raising event. "We're so grateful to all the people who helped us get to where we are now."

Although the building is only two stories high, the 6-foot by 10-foot sign is the second-highest on the Row behind Hotel St. Michael. The top reaches about 30 feet.

John and Debi Stamm lost most of the saloon's distinctive treasures when it burned down on May 8, 2012, alongside the Prescott Food Store and Larry & Hy's Bare Bones BBQ. All were housed in the same building at 148 S. Montezuma, erected right after most of the downtown burned to the ground on July 14, 1900. The other two businesses have not returned.

John Stamm's father Bill opened the Bird Cage Saloon with its bird-cage-shaped sign in that building in 1969.

"Oh, I think Mom and Pop would approve," John Stamm said shortly after the sign was secured with six 5/8-inch bolts and weight-distributing metal plates to the dark-brown stucco and brick structure.

The sign didn't need much cleaning, Morgan Sign Owner Stephan Markov said. He and his Prescott staff installed new wiring and fluorescent lights in the plastic and steel sign before putting it up on the Row.

"It's great to keep the history and tradition of Whiskey Row," Markov said.

The Stamms hope to open the saloon by Memorial Day weekend. Debi already has booked the Crown Kings to perform music. The Cage is known for its rock and blues music. Bands now will get free room and board upstairs.

The new saloon will be much larger than its previous home - 2,600 square feet compared to 1,600. Right now it's down to the bare bones indoors, with framing and the new sprinkler system exposed.

With the extra room, the stage will be larger at about 15x15 feet, Debi Stamm said. The bar will be 38 feet long.

Only a few charred stuffed birds survived the fire, so the Stamms are looking for more. The old place contained about 50 taxidermy birds and other animals that John's great-great-uncle William Walden had stuffed.

About 60 collectible liquor decanters, classic three-dimensional bar signs, and artwork of cowboys and sultry women also are gone.

The historic back bar was saved, however, and is now being refurbished.

The Bird Cage isn't the only "new" sign on Whiskey Row, by the way. To the north, Moctezuma's Bar is now renamed the Whiskey Row Pub.

To keep up with the efforts to revive the Bird Cage, see its website at birdcagesaloon.com.


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