With original rock walls and massive stone archways, wooden benches salvaged from a Holbrook Babbitt Brothers warehouse, street-level windows and an impressive mahogany bar from a post-Prohibition Flagstaff, The Gopher Hole Pub is rich in character and history.
Located in the basement of the historic Weatherford Hotel, The Gopher Hole was a welcomed establishment in the 1930s following Prohibition and in the midst of the Great Depression. Historian and Pioneer Museum Curator Joe Meehan says the community was ready for the pub. “Flagstaff was never a strongly alcoholic town, but once it [alcohol] became legal, everybody enjoyed it.”
However, on Sept. 3, 1943, The Coconino Sun described how the Gopher Hole was replaced by the American Legion. “The old Gopher Hole, in the basement of the Weatherford Hotel, officially succumbed to progress Wednesday evening when approximately 300 members of Mark A. Moore Post number 3, American Legion, members of the Legion auxiliary and invited guests gathered to officially open the modernized Legion Club, a monument to the enterprise of those who planned it and those whose liberal cooperation have made it possible, and a boon to Legion members and the boys in the V-12 training unit at Flagstaff College.”
Old-timers recall how the youth of the community later turned the Weatherford hotel basement into a kids’ club and used it as a place to hang out. The named lived on as they continued to call it The Gopher Hole.
Through the 20th century, the Weatherford Hotel changed owners and housed many different kinds of businesses including a radio station and a Chinese restaurant. At one time, the basement contained a bowling alley.
When Henry (Taylor) purchased the declining hotel in 1975 to save it from demolition, the basement became the Village Cobbler shop. He was able to rent the space and also help individuals gain job skills there by training them in shoe repair.
Today, The Gopher Hole Pub is a beautifully restored rustic space that pays homage to the past. It is accessible from outside the hotel as well as the inside, with recycled timbers serving as beverage shelves lining the outdoor walkway. The comment we hear the most is, ‘I really love the rock work!’ It’s interesting because it is part of the foundation. You can see early 1900s construction and how the hotel was built by looking at the walls.
But perhaps the crowning jewel of the modern Gopher Hole is the refurbished bar. It was Flagstaff’s first following Prohibition and originally installed in Club 66, which is now Crystal Magic. The immense antique was then moved next door to what was the Rose Tree, and is now Monsoon’s. Thirteen years ago, we bought it and kept it in storage until it could be returned to its original splendor and reassembled for guests to enjoy.
We are thrilled that The Gopher Hole Pub is, once again, open for locals and downtown visitors. It is a place to play pool, darts or corn hole, listen to live bands and visit with friends. Comfort food, like the Weatherford’s specialty pizza (a rendition of the hotel’s popular Navajo taco), is served up. And The Gopher Hole is quickly becoming a well-known entity for special events and catered gatherings of as many as 200 people.
Sam Green Taylor and Henry Taylor are the owners of the Weatherford Hotel in downtown Flagstaff, the heart of Flagstaff, where the Northland comes home to celebrate. The hotel features dining and entertainment in Charly’s Pub & Grill, The Gopher Hole and the Zane Grey Ballroom. For more information visit www.weatherfordhotel.com or call 928-779-1919 to book holiday parties or reservations for New Year’s Eve dinner.