African Americans and the Boston Saloon
Between 1866 and 1875, a remarkable business thrived in Virginia City. Free-born William A.G. Brown operated the Boston Saloon, serving Virginia City’s African Americans. Archaeologists have revealed that Brown offered his customers finely prepared meals with the best cuts of meat. Shortly after Brown sold his business, the great fire of 1875 swept through town and destroyed the building.
There were rarely more than one hundred African Americans living in Virginia City during its height in the 1860s, but they played varied and important roles in the community. Some African Americans pursued work as laborers, porters, and barbers. Others became affluent business owners, and a prominent doctor won widespread respect. By the 1870’s, African American children attended integrated schools. However, the decline of mining by 1880 sent many Nevadans, including African Americans, elsewhere. When mining in the state revived in the early 1900s, a shift at the federal, state, and local levels that implemented segregation via law or practice kept most African American families from returning to communities like Virginia City.
The site of the Boston Saloon is located uphill and to the left of this location at the corner of Union and D Streets now occupied by the Bucket of Blood Saloon parking lot.
STATE HISTORIC PRESERVATION OFFICE
DON MCBRIDE AND THE BUCKET OF BLOOD SALOON
RENO-SPARKS BRANCH OF THE NAACP, UNIT #1112
STATE HISTORICAL MARKER No. 266