PRESCOTT, AZ - Hundreds of years of a town's history gone in an instant, but there is now hope for the future.
Sunday, thousands in Prescott crowded onto Whiskey Row for a fundraiser. The community pledged to rebuild the businesses destroyed by a fire weeks ago. The town wants to see The Bird Cage Saloon, Pearl's BBQ, and The Prescott Food Store continue their legacies.
If the walls of the burned shops could talk, they'd probably tell you about the past century of memories that helped make Whiskey Row.
The fire may have burned away most the businesses' pasts, but the whole town seems determined to give them many more years to come. The crowd Sunday was enormous, practically the entire population of the surrounding area came out to support the businesses, friends and family of Whiskey Row.
When you set foot in the Bird Cage Saloon, customers say it was like walking into a time machine. Pieces and memories of days long ago decorated the walls.
"The Bird Cage Back Bar came here in 1880's, late 1800s," the bar's owner John Stamm told ABC15. "Some of the birds were well over 200-years-old. The elk mounts that were in there were shot in 1940."
A fire turned the saloon, the life's work of John and his wife Debi's family into ash.
"It's hard to grasp what was really in there," John said.
Two weeks ago a bad kitchen appliance in Pearl's Barbecue threatened to send all of Whiskey row up in flames. Firefighters could not save Pearl's, the Bird Cage, or the Prescott Food Store, but the community just might.
Organizers of the fundraiser said they might have collected as much as $80,000 Sunday.
"This is a part of their history, and they want to see it come back together," Debi said.
"You couldn't ask for a better town to live in," John said.
John and Debi have vowed to re-make the Bird Cage, bigger and better, but it will take them a while to get over the sentimental loss. Lucky for them, Prescott's motto is "everybody's hometown," and no one in the community wants them forget they have their support.