Friday, September 07, 2001

Belly up to historic bar on eBay site

Auction offers piece of Newport's Flamingo Club

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — The elaborate wooden bar from the old Flamingo Club on York Street, a piece of Newport's infamous past, is now for sale on the eBay Internet auction site.

        The minimum bid is $39,000 and the auction is open until 3:55 p.m. today. The bar, manufactured in the late 1890s, graced the premises in the middle of the block of York Street between Sixth and Seventh streets in a club originally known as the 966 Club and later renamed the Flamingo.

        According to the information in the description of the bar, the 966 Club was closed after someone was shot there, apparently in the 1930s.

        When it reopened as the Flamingo, according to the description, it received such famous visitors as actor Errol Flynn, baseball great Babe Ruth, gangster Al Capone and New York Mayor Jimmy Walker. Some Newport old-timers said they were never aware that Capone visited the city.

        eBay does not disclose the identities of its sellers, so the only thing known for sure about the bar is that it is now in an establishment in Genoa, Ill., on the outskirts of Chicago. The bar is made of curly birch and stained mahogany. The back bar is 10 feet, 2 inches high and is 17 feet, 4 inches long. The front bar has 12 matching wooden stools.

        The Flamingo was one of the larger clubs in Newport that operated with wide-open gambling after World War II and through the 1950s. Others included Beverly Hills, Schmidt's Playtorium, the Sportsmans Club, the Glen Rendezvous and the Yorkshire Club. Most of the clubs were rumored to have organized-crime connections.

        They all shut down in the early 1960s under heavy pressure from the U.S. Justice Department and Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who waged a war against organized crime.

        The Flamingo building was empty for a number of years and then, in later days, reopened as the Jockey Club, offering alternative music.

        The building was eventually demolished; the site is now a parking lot used by a taxi and limousine company.


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