2101 St Joseph Avenue|
The First Ward House first opened in 1878
Originally, the upstairs was a hotel and the lower section was a saloon
For decades, the upstairs doubled as a brothel
The First Ward House is one of the oldest bars west of the Mississippi River and it is still in operation
The building is located on the northeast corner of Grand Avenue and St Joseph Avenue
In the 1950's, bricks from the top 2 floors were used to reconstruct the Pony Express Stables
Over the years, the building became very dilapidated and was in danger of being torn down
In 1998, a new owner totally remodeled the old structure and appears to be doing a prosperous business
The Grand Island bridge in the background once spanned Chicago Northwestern tracks
A newer bridge had replaced the old, but now the tracks & bridge are both gone, as well as the hill as seen in a few photos
Around 6 p.m. on March 17, 2015, a malfunctioning electronic smoker caused the First Ward's bar and music venue’s
deck to catch fire, spreading fire throughout the building at 2101 St. Joseph Ave.
Within minutes, pictures and video of the building’s massive blaze flooded social media.
Shortly after, fundraising efforts on sites like GoFundMe encouraged people to donate to cover
the costs of repairing the fire damage. A giant concert, titled “Save The First Ward House,”
helped raise about $15,000 for the rebuilding project.
Nine months later, the bar has re-opened and business is still recovering.