By Bradley G. Courtney
Whiskey Row of Prescott, Arizona is arguably the most fascinating, historical quarter-city block in the western United States. The centerpiece of this historic, jam-packed street has been the magnificent Palace Saloon, today the Palace Restaurant and Saloon. It is no wonder that one of Arizona’s favorite sons, Barry Goldwater—whose ties to Prescott are well documented—once lamented, “My only regret is that I didn’t buy The Palace when I had a chance.”
His friend, Tom Sullivan, who in 1977 believed he had purchased the Palace (it was still under contract at the time of the letter mentioned below but the deal fell through eventually), knew this. When writing Goldwater on July 26th of that year, his incentive was rather thinly veiled—his guilt quite transparent.
The bulk of his letter, however, disclosed his plans to restore the saloon to its early 1900s glory and to share its considerable history with patrons. “I know of your very deep and sentimental interest in Prescott and any help that you may be able to give will be greatly appreciated." Goldwater’s response was a truly honest, magnanimous and typically humorous letter, dated August 10, 1977. It began with a good-natured, “You rascal, you went and bought what had long been my desire to own. When I was in China during World War II, I received in a Christmas package a book, and I knew when I opened it there would be the deed to the Palace Bar which, at that time, was available.” According to Goldwater, the asking price then was a mere $20,000. He went on to share a story said to have occurred in 1889 regarding the transference of the territorial capital from Prescott to Phoenix.