Wine House
16 - 18 Commercial Row
1931 - 1960
Wine House
Photo from the Rick Olsen Collection




Mark Englebretson
Grade 3

Mark Englebretson
Grade 3

Mark Englebretson
Grade 3

Norm Guerrero
Grade 3

The Wine House was located on East Commercial Row and had entrances on both Douglas Alley and Commercial Row. It was a bar and restaurant as well as a gambling house. Opened by Eli Francovich in 1874, the property was owned by the Francovich family until 1971. The Wine House probably had more gambling games in the years prior to 1931 than it did afterward. In the early 1900s there were three levels of gaming in the establishment, and during the teens and twenties there was gaming of all sorts--including cock-fighting--conducted in the high-ceilinged building.

When gaming was legalized in 1931, the Wine House was one of the first places to be licensed. Its first licensed games were pan, craps, 21, roulette, faro, and a big-six wheel. In August it added a racehorse pool. In October the ownersleased space for a faro game to George Allen, and in 1938 they leased space for a faro game to W.E. Buzzard. In 1936 they added a racehorse keno game and also featured wire services from every major-league baseball park in the United States.

The gaming aspects of the Wine House diminished as the years went by. In the last thirteen years of the club's existence, gaming became almost nonexistent as the owners focused on their restaurant.

The property was sold to Harolds Club in 1961 and was used for many years as the break room (recreation area and locker room) for Harolds Club employees. The building was razed in the 1970s to make room for as expansion of Harolds Club. The site is still part of Harolds Club.

According to Dwayne Kling