The Palace Saloon
About The Palace Saloon
The Palace Saloon was the last American tavern to close during Prohibition, and it survived that dry era as an ice cream parlor. Once a favorite haunt of the Carnegies, the Rockefellers and other socialites, The Palace Saloon is still operating today. In fact, it's one of the frequent stops on the Amelia Island Museum of History’s weekly walking tours of Historic Downtown Fernandina Beach.
Still in the original location, this watering hole's colorful history began in the late 1800s. According to local historians, the owners of the Saloon were selling liquor until the very last minute before Prohibition took effect. People from neighboring states waited in long lines for their share.
The Palace has had to adapt to earn its title of "Florida's oldest" continuously operated drinking establishment. According to local lore, it was the last bar in Florida to close on the eve of Prohibition. A shrewd business man, Hirth stored up for a last hurrah selling till midnight and grossing $60,000 in a single day. Another first for the Palace, it was the first hard liquor bar to begin serving Coca-Cola, around 1905. The Palace survived the Prohibition years by selling Texaco gasoline, ice cream, special wines, 3 percent near-beer, and cigars. And for those strong enough to try it, legend says Hirth made available his signature Cumberland whiskey. A fire in 1999 nearly dealt the saloon a deathblow. However, through inspired and enthusiastic ownership, the saloon was restored and the Palace has regained its nostalgic charm and vitality.
The Palace continues to bring folks together. Old friends still gather here rubbing elbows with passing Shipcaptains and local well-to-do. And once news is swapped and formalities concluded, they get down to the more serious business of dustin' the sea spray off their jackets and enjoying the long-awaited shoreside beer. Go ahead, belly up to the bar, and as the bartender slides a mug of suds to you, the ghosts from ten decades past join in drinking to your health.
View Larger Map