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“The Pinzon” –no one ever called it the Pinzon Bar-was a fixture of the original downtown Valdez town site. There were many others, but the Pinzon seems to have been a “hub” for socializing and political activity until it was closed following the 1964 earthquake.
The Pinzon served alcoholic beverages, of course, but more than that, it provided space for people to gather, play cards, enjoy a meal, and catch up on the town’s happenings.
For many years, the Pinzon was the unofficial headquarters of Alaska’s Democratic Party. It was owned by Clinton J. “Truck” Egan, brother to William J. “Bill” Egan, Alaska’s first elected governor. Those persons with political aspirations on the Democratic ticket felt obliged to make a pilgrimage to “The Pinzon” to talk things over.
The copper sheet in the center of the front of the bar is a remnant of the Volstead Act-more commonly known by its effect: the prohibitions of the manufacture and the sale of alcoholic beverages. During Prohibition, the Pinzon became a soda fountain, and holes were drilled in the bar for soda spigots. When prohibition was repealed, the holes were covered by the copper sheeting. The section of back bar opposite this bar was originally placed end to end with the one in front of you. This created a 40-foot bar, reportedly the longest in the Territory of Alaska.
The architecture of the bar pieces, especially the back bars, reflect the ornate styles prevalent when they were built. The pieces were manufactured by the Brunswick-Blake Company of Chicago in the late 1880s. They were brought to the Pacific Coast around the tip of South America and were used in the Seattle area before being brought to Valdez by past owners Levy and Biggs.