Posted by Debbie Courson Smith at 2:00 AM 7/29/08
Permission granted via email on December 4, 2012 to use photo
In my Digital History class, the class was given an Augmented Digital Project assignment to work on as a group project. My group decided to look at speakeasies in downtown Boise, Idaho. However, finding real speakeasies in Boise proved to be a difficult thing to find. Our group decided to stay with the essential theme and looked at bars and vice in the Boise Main Street Historical District. While I was looking into the history of The Bouquet, I found out that there is also a lot of history at the 1010 Main Street site where the The Bouquet is currently located. Since these two places merged and are a part of the Boise Main Street Historical District, it made sense to write about both.
The Blues Bouquet or The Bouquet has been a part of the Boise Main Street landscape when it started out in 1906 with owners Joe Welch and Tom Clark and was originally located on 711 Main Street behind the Overland Buffett. The bar was then called The Bouquet Bar Wines & Liquors Domesticated & Imported Cigars. In 1910 the bar was moved to 821 Main Street, shortening it’s name at this time to The Bouquet Fountain. (2).
During a statewide prohibition from 1916 to 1933, The Bouquet was up and running and the bar was in the middle of what was known as the Light District or Gambling District. During this time, an article in the Idaho Weekly in 1947 indicated that this area of downtown Boise attracted a broad spectrum of visitors, ranging from state officials, local men, “bums”, tourists and local working men around the valley. Since The Bouquet was deemed a “respectable place” among the pool halls and saloons, visitors who were in Boise to perform at the Morrison-Knudson theater would make it a point to visit The Bouquet. (2)
In the early 1900s through the prohibition era, another building on Main Street was making its own history. The site at 1010 Main Street is an interesting one. The building was built in the late 1890s and was called the Havana Club. In 1906, the building then became the Granda Theater where it sat 600 people. In 1910, the Avery Hotel Building was built at this site. Throughout the years, there have been rumors that the hotel was a speakeasy during prohibition.
In the early 1970s, Boise downtown went through an urban renewal. The Bouquet was the last of the downtown businesses to move from its old site at 821 Main St. to its current location. The owner at the time, Al Berro, bought the building at 1010 Main St. and renovated it. The paneling was redone to match the mahogany bar, the main attraction of The Bouquet. In an article for The Idaho Statesman, a local newspaper dated March 25, 1975, Al Berro, gave an interview about the process of moving into the building that month. “It was like a jackpot,” Berro explained. “They found a 1900 half-dollar, a 1921 phone directory, old German coins and other things that had fallen behind the bar.” When the The Bouquet moved into its new location, it was called The Bouquet Bar and Cigar Sportsman’s Center and The Havana Club Restaurant. The owner, Berro, wanted to honor the first restaurant at this site and added the name, The Havana Club. (4)
The main attraction and a source of confusion about The Bouquet has always been the mahogany bar. A massive, Brunswick mahogany bar that is 40 foot long is “part of The Bouquet bar’s mystique is the fact that nobody seems to know for sure which Boise saloon it was originally built for.” One of the stories that Al Berro was told is that The Bouquet mahogany bar was on the first floor at the Overland Buffett and then moved to The Bouquet in 1906 while it was located at 711 Main St. One of mahogany bars that also has many stories was bought by the Idaho Historical Auxiliary in 1966 for $3,000.00. (1)
Flash forward to 2012, Tyson Twilegar, who currently owns The Bouquet, sat down to have a cup of coffee with me and to talk about the brief history of The Bouquet and it’s mahogany bar. “The upstairs of the Avery Hotel was a brothel and downstairs was a speakeasy. The back of bar was a Brunswick that was made in Boston 1901 and it was shipped to San Francisco in 1902. Then the bar was brought to Boise and it was installed in the Overland Buffett, and later it was installed at [old Bouquet location] 711 Main St. When it was moved from old Bouquet it was in seven pieces and taken to where Bouquet is now at 1010 Main and downtown Boise was closed off so the bar can be moved.” (5)
For now, The Bouquet, is closed. An article in The Idaho Statesman, dated February 21, 2012 states, “A “Notice of Trustee’s Sale” has been posted on the doors of The Bouquet, 1010 Main St., indicating that the building is being foreclosed upon.” (3) Though there have been rumors, there was no indication from Twilegar when the The Bouquet will reopen or if there will be a new owner.
(1) Accola, John. “Idaho bars serve up history along with drinks.” The Idaho Statesman, Boise, January 21, 1979
(hardcopy accessed on December 4, 2012 through The Idaho History Library)
(2) Copsey, Doug. “Spirit of Old Bouquet.” Idaho Heritage. Sept – Oct 1976.
http://www.bluesbouquet.freeservers.com/article1.htm (accessed December 4, 2012)
(3) Deeds, Michael. “Updated: Last call for The Bouquet? Foreclosure process begins for Downtown Boise building.” (blog) The Idaho Statesman, February 21, 2011
http://voices.idahostatesman.com/2011/02/21/mdeeds/last_call_bouquet#storylink=cpy last modified Tues, February 22, 2011 (accessed December 11, 2012)
(4) Kocker, Charles. “Bouquet to Leave Old Home.” The Idaho Statesman, Mar
ch 25, 1975 (hardcopy assessed on December 4, 201 through The Idaho History Library)
(5) Twilegar, Tyson, current owner of The Bouquet, interview by Elizabeth Couchum, Flying M Coffee House, December 9, 2012.