Property: Molitor's Olde Saloon (4 March 2005)

Contact: Crystal Wendt

----Sources: Marshfield News Herald (Marshfield, Wood Co., Wis.) Fri, Mar 4, 2005

Curtiss landmark gone; cause of fire sought Building design, cold weather hampered firefighters

By Matt Ollwerther-- Marshfield News-Herald

CURTISS, WIS. - A Wednesday night fire destroyed Molitor's Olde Saloon, a popular gathering place adorned with antiques that served some of the best steaks you'll ever eat, the owners say.

Firefighters received the call around 6 p.m. Wednesday. Although the saloon is two doors down from the fire station, crews had a difficult time battling the blaze.

The cold temperatures reportedly froze some of the firefighters' equipment, hindering it from properly working. The building's design, having few windows, also made the battle against the fire uphill.

The cause remains under investigation. No one was injured.

"There's not much left," said Bev Molitor, one of the bar's owners. "We're still trying to find out ourselves what really happened. All I know is that it's gone." Becky Johnson of Curtiss said she was "bummed out" the saloon was gone.

"It was our favorite place to eat," she said.

She's eaten at the Molitor's Olde Saloon about 10 times in the six years she's lived in the area. The comfortable and homey atmosphere with the walls lined with antiques made a for great place to sit and take in the surroundings, she said.

"It was a cool place," Johnson said.

Most of the building was constructed in 1889 and "was a landmark all in its own," Molitor said.

Her family ran two bars - Molitor's Olde Saloon in Curtiss and Molitor's New Saloon in Abbotsford. They purchased the Curtiss saloon Feb. 1, 1996. The family stayed busy between the two, she said.

The Curtiss saloon had a number of rare antiques that are irreplaceable, Molitor said.

An old-fashioned safe may have survived the fire, but she said an original Leinenkugel bar, an enormous mirror, wood carvings and an old cash register used in banks were lost. "You probably won't see another one 'til you go to Vegas," she said. Some customers would come to sit and absorb the atmosphere with the good food, she said.

"We served the best steaks in the world," she said.

The hangout also had pictures showing the only building as the only one in town, Molitor said.

As word spread of the fire, Molitor said many nearby residents and patrons came to watch.

Meanwhile, Molitor was in Wausau when she received news of the blaze, and appeared to be coming to grips with the reality Thursday afternoon.

"First you've got to believe it really happened," she said. "It's too fresh to even think about, actually." The family is waiting for the shock to wear off before planning a return to Curtiss.

"Everybody's been asking that, but at this time we don't know," she said.

Attempts to reach Curtiss Fire Chief Nelson Neimi on Thursday were unsuccessful.

Brady Lane/Marshfield News-Herald Linda Patterson, left, mother of Trisha Molitor, and Shellee Orth, an employee at the tavern, carry items out of what's left of Molitor's Olde Saloon in Curtiss.



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