Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Barn

Northwest Highway East of Lemmon
Phone 5-5733 for Reservations

There was a time when the intersection of Marsh and Northwest Highway was at the edge of the city, an overgrown area that was home to riding stables and a place called The Barn. The Barn was sort of a private club, but not the kind that advertised itself on matchbooks. Located on 4 acres, the white-walled green-roofed structure did resemble a big barn. It  was a nightclub, dance hall and gambling den, the kind of place you see in old movies, where you knocked at the door and a pair of eyes would gauge your appearance through a peephole while you told them "Louie sent me" or some such password. The first floor was the nightclub; the second floor was where folks threw dice. When the place was built is anybody's guess, possibly in the 1930s.

This matchbook is likely from the 1940s, and The Barn may have been trying to clean up its act. A newspaper ad in 1942 announced a party at The Barn held by the riding club across the street. There were more parties, but an application to turn The Barn into a supper club in 1945 was denied, and the Barn closed in 1946. In 1947 an attempt to reopen it as a nightclub failed when the city inspector denied the new owner an occupancy permit. The reason may have been because the area was about to become residential, filled with brick homes.

The Barn was used briefly as a residence, then in 1950 the Rev. Arthur B Pearson bought the property and the old barn became the Walnut Hill Lutheran Church. Pastor Pearson found a 20-foot bar, numerous buckshot marks in the walls, the stairs and on what had been the dance floor, and a sliding panel that concealed a secret passageway to escape from the second to the third floor.

The Barn was located on Womack Way, whose name was changed to Mixon Drive in 1957. About the same time the Lutheran Church moved to its present location at 3202 Royal Lane. Today a Target store covers the area that may have originally contained The Barn.

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