Historic Valley Bar destroyed in fire
March 26, 2006
CENTERVILLE – An early morning fire destroyed the historic Valley Bar on Sunday.
East Fork Fire District firefighters arrived on scene at about 5 a.m. to find the attic of the building ablaze.
Sybil Dunagan, who grew up in the bar and lives next door, said she heard a loud popping noise and saw the fire when she looked out of her window.
East Fork Fire and Paramedics District Deputy Fire Chief Bobby Wartgow said firefighters did a sweep through the building to make sure no one was inside. As firefighters were preparing to get at the fire, it broke through the roof, forcing them to evacuate.
Not long after firefighters escaped the burning building, the roof collapsed.
“This is a significant piece of Carson Valley history,” East Fork Fire and Paramedics District Chief Todd Carlini said. Fire Marshal Steve Eisele began his investigation into the cause of the fire about an hour after it was reported. Carlini said the structure would be too unsafe for people to enter and seek a backhoe with a finger to sort through the wreckage.
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“We’ll do everything we can to try and recover what’s inside,” Carlini said.
The structure has stood at 900 Centerville Lane at the intersection with Highway 88 for decades.
Dunagan said the bar was moved to its location in Virginia City by a team of oxen.
“It used to be a cheese shop,” she said.
The bar was the focus of the tiny town of Centerville. A bar had been there since 1902, along with a blacksmith shop.
According to a story appearing in The Record-Courier last year, the barroom was brought over from Virginia City in the early 1930s.
The single-story saloon has been a Carson Valley landmark since it was established in Gardnerville in 1938.
It served as a meeting place and during elections as a polling place over its history.
The bar was named the Pride of the West when it was purchased by Julian Larrouy Sr. and his wife Sybil in the 1940s.
Dunagan, their daughter, said the family lived in the back of the bar where she used to baby-sit. She now lives next door.
“A lot of history went up in smoke here,” Julian Larrouy Jr. said as he watched the fire.
Bar operators Bryan Davis and Christopher Plummer watched as firefighters worked on the building. Davis said they had just put $10,000 worth of improvements inside the bar over the past three weeks.
“We’ll just have to see what happens,” Davis said. “Hopefully we can keep going.”
Davis and Plummer took over the bar last summer.
“It was awesome to run the bar,” Plummer said. “There are a lot of cool, great people who came here.”
Davis and Plummer had plans to hold Centerville Days.