2nd Last Turn Saloon opens in old laundry building
The Last Turn Saloon on Fourth and Front streets with an infamous past was torn down in 1931 not long after Prohibition. But after the 18th Amendment was repealed, another bar opened on South Eighth Street in Brainerd with the same name with a colorful history and character all its own
The Last Turn Saloon in downtown Brainerd is not the first bar in the city’s 150-year history to bear that name.
Located in the Lakeland Building along South Eighth Street near Laurel Street, the second saloon was once a commercial laundry and motel in the early 1900s.
"This is a strange building indeed, as it really has no ‘main floor,’ or street-level floor, just a basement with a very tall ceiling, a small entryway at sidewalk level, and a second and third floor," said Carl Faust, a local historian.
There existed another bar on Fourth and Front streets also called The Last Turn Saloon with a more infamous past that was torn down in 1931. It was as this spot where man was fatally shot and two others — American Indian brothers — were hanged without a trial by a lynch mob in the late 1800s.
Step through The Last Turn Saloon’s doors and down to the bar — the one today which opened in 1977 on South Eighth Street — and walk the well-worn hardwood floors, and it’s easy to understand why many have mistaken it for the other with the same name that opened in 1871.
“You can see the windows that look out to nowhere to the south because the next-door building was built just inches from it,” Faust said of the South Eighth Street bar.
The Lakeland Building had a huge steam boiler and sold excess steam heat to several other buildings, possibly four on that block, according to Faust, and these steam pipe conduits are still visible but not accessible.
“These conduits were big enough for massive steam pipes and had enough room for a steamfitter or maintenance man to crawl through, not walk. These conduits have long since been plugged up with concrete to eliminate fire breaches,” Faust said.
Faust has traditionally led a popular guided walk during Brained History Week in which he reveals and revels in the history of the downtown buildings that many simply walk or drive by.
“It was specially erected to accommodate this new and large business,” Faust wrote in the tour booklet about the Lakeland Building and the laundry business housed within. “It brought laundry by rail express from as far away as Crookston, Minn.”
W.A. Barrows, D.L. Fairchild and Carl Zapffe incorporated the Brainerd Model Laundry Co. in 1913 and instituted the first up-to-date laundry and completely equipped cleaning establishment in Brainerd that opened for business on Jan. 5, 1914.
“The front is of red pressed brick with stone trimmings. Brainerd brick was used to a large extent, the red building kind was furnished by David Ebinger, whose brickyards were in Northeast Brainerd,” Faust said.
The first and second floors of the building were occupied by the laundry and the third floor originally contained six suites of flats; there were two two-room, two four-room and two five-room suites.
“The woodwork was fumed oak with birch floors. Heavy sheets of noise-deadening felt were used in the floors to make the apartments soundproof. The company handled laundry from over 80 towns within a radius of 400 miles of Brainerd,” Faust said.
The Brainerd Model Laundry was providing steam heat for the Whitney Funeral Home in October 1915. Whitney was located at 720 Front St., the lot west of the parking lot on the southwest corner of Front and South Eighth streets.
“It could be that some bootlegging or rum-running took place in the tunnels during prohibition, as we so often heard on social media, but I have found no newspaper stories or other evidence to support it,” Faust said.
“In November of 1919, a very large copper still was installed, the townsfolk were all atwitter — thinking it was a still to be used to make alcohol. Alas, the still was used to distill gasoline for use in dry cleaning.”
FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchFL .