Historic Root Beer Barrel Close To Finding New Home In Douglas
Having talked about several options since its completed restoration at the end of 2012, the Friends of the Barrel are seriously considering the parking space at the southwest corner of Ferry and W. Center streets for public placement of the “beloved Douglas landmark,” the historic Root Beer Barrel.
Douglas Council Member Eric Smith, who acts as liaison between the city and Friends of the Barrel, made the announcement during Monday night’s city council meeting.
“The Friends of the Barrel (a volunteer committee dedicated to salvaging the structure) wanted to find a place near to where the barrel originally stood,” said Smith, adding it would be a location on the way to the beach, either Douglas Beach or Saugatuck Oval Beach.
“I think that works for us for a lot of reasons,” said Douglas City Manager Bill LeFevere.
As for use of the barrel, besides the vision of having it be an iconic landmark attraction, Smith said it was more likely to become an “open museum” rather than its original use as an eatery, a more complicated project that would involve major modifications to the structure.
Smith noted the Ferry and Center streets’ proposal seems to be a location Friends favored over another place the committee is considering by the former Kalico Kitchen building on Blue Star Highway.
Besides the Kalico site, Friends and city leaders have also talked about putting the barrel at Beery Field and Wade’s Bayou. The latter two ideas seem to have been completely scrapped though.
Also, at one point there was some interest expressed by street food Odie Dogs owner Eric Chaitin to possibly use the barrel at a location along Blue Star Highway to run his business.
The 17-foot-high, 10-foot-diameter redwood barrel once housed a small eatery serving foot-long hot dogs and root beer in frosted mugs from 1950 to the mid-1970s.
In 2010, the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society bought the barrel.
Friends spent many hours sanding, repairing, varnishing and moving the 125-foot barrel staves during a massive restoration project.
The finished staves are currently in a storage barn while Friends
secure a permanent relocation.