Humphrey’s Pub, 500 W. Main St., Merrill, is featured in a new book, Bottoms Up, released in September by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press.
“It’s pretty cool,” said co-owner Beth Humphrey. “I’m kind of a history buff myself and I thought it was pretty awesome that a building I owned made the cut to be in a book like this.”
Beginning with inns and saloons, the book explores the rise of taverns and breweries in Wisconsin. Seventy featured taverns and breweries represent diverse architectural styles.
The segment in the book on Humphrey’s Pub focuses on the original features of the bar, especially the flooring and a flaw in the floor where a wall once stood. The interior wall was there to protect the innocent from seeing what was going on in the bar. Women and children were not allowed beyond the wall, which was removed during Prohibition. In front of the screen was the anteroom, where the wife of an early proprietor is said to have had a dress shop.
Originally the Farkvam Saloon, the building was constructed in 1905. John and Beth Humphrey purchased the then-100-year-old tavern in 2005. They have the abstract that chronicles the succession of owners.
“This isn’t the oldest bar in Merrill, but this has never not been a saloon,” Beth said.
The features of the bar that drew the attention of the Bottoms Up authors – its tin ceiling, wood paneling, tiled floor and massive back bar with matching liquor cabinet – are also what attracted the Humphrey’s to the building.
“I’ve always loved this place, since I was old enough to go into a bar this was one of my favorite places,” Beth said.
Bottoms Up authors Jim Draeger and Mark Speltz tirelessly traversed the state seeking the perfect establishments to help tell their story of Wisconsin’s taverns and breweries.
The Humphrey’s were first contacted about a year and a half ago, when a photographer came into the bar to take some pictures and ask a few questions. About six months later an official photographer was sent to Merrill and the Humphrey’s learned they had made the cut and would be featured in the book.
Humphrey’s Pub is the only bar in central Wisconsin featured in Bottoms Up.
Copies of the hardcover 272-page book are available online or at Humphrey’s Pub in Merrill.
Many of the bars and breweries featured in the book will be part of a documentary which will air at 8 p.m. on Nov. 12 on Wisconsin Public Television stations.