What will happen to the Century Bar’s famed bar?

‘It wouldn’t be the Century without that bar,’ co-owner said. 

There are some things that just define a place. 

At the Century Bar, co-owner Diane Spitzig says one of those things is the historic bar. 

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The Century will celebrate its last night in its current space with a big New Year’s Eve bourbon-infused bash.

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May 1, 1970 photo of what was then called Merker's Century Bar in downtown Dayton. Photo by Charles Steinbrunner.
Photo: Dayton Daily News archive

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It was no wonder that fans of the nationally recognized bourbon bar were concerned about the fate of the grand old bar when Joe Head, Spitzig’s partner and longtime Century employee, announced in early 2019 that the business would move a door down from its current location to 18 to 20 S. Jefferson St., the former Dayton Power and Light Building. 

>> RELATED: Century Bar moving to bigger space

Spitzig said the stained-glass bar helps give the Century Bar its ambiance and is part of its spirit. 

“I wouldn’t go anywhere without the bar,” she said. “It wouldn’t be the Century without that bar.” 

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The bar at 10 S. Jefferson St. has been called the Century Bar since 1942, but the back bar’s history goes beyond that.  

Frank Steffen is said to have purchased the back bar around 1924 for Steffen’s, a male-only “coffee shop” that opened in the Century’s space three years after the Great Dayton Flood of 1913.

Century Bar owner Diane Spitzig of Daytonian of the Week.

Constructed in 1862, the bar had been in Gibson’s Hotel in Cincinnati.

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It is highlighted by dome lights and carved maidens similar to figureheads found at the bow of old ships.

March 1, 1982 Journal Herald photo by Walt Kleine of the interior of the Century Bar.
Photo: Dayton Daily News archive

Spitzig said the bar will be the last thing moved to the new location when the business moves in early 2020. 

When it reopens, the often-packed business will be in a much bigger space. 

Bourbon being served at the Century Bar in Dayton. Contributed photo

If all goes as planned, the first floor of the three-story Dayton Power and Light Building  will be the Century Bar’s new home and house its historic bar.

A yet-to-be named second floor of the bar’s new building would hold a separate cocktail and wine lounge.

The third floor will be managed by the Century Bar as part of a partnership with Windsor. 

The bar will be taken apart in pieces over three to six days with the help of experts. 

Toya Menker serves lunch customers at Century Bar in the January 26, 1982 photo by Wally Nelson.
Photo: Dayton Daily News archive

Spitzig, who purchased the Century in 1996 from Jim Menker, said the pieces are said to be numbered. 

There have been updates to the bar in recent years. 

A copper top was added to the bar in 2011 as the Century made renovations as part of its transition into the bourbon bar it is today. 

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Last year, additional bartender stations were added. 

Century Bar historic bar is a main feature.
Photo: Century Bar
Century Bar historic bar is a main feature.
Photo: Century Bar
Aug. 1 1977 photos of the exterior of the Century Bar.
Photo: Dayton Daily News archive