Touring Arcata Plaza, Destination # 23

The White Front

754 9th St.

Built: 1875

Period: Settlement Architecture c. 1850-1885

The Daily Times of September 7, 1875 carried this advertisement:

Arcata. Richards' New Saloon, north side Plaza... Having
rebuilt my saloon on the site of that recently destroyed by
fire in the above delightful resort at the head of Humboldt
the public generally... superior liquors, wines, and cigars,
with one of the Best Billiard Tables in Humboldt County.
C.C. Richards

Richards' Saloon soon became the notable White Front Saloon, which operated from the tum of the century until the 1950's. A colorful, perhaps somewhat checkered, career accompanied the White Front name. In July 1905, Ollie Noble bought half interest in the White Front, sharing the ownership with "Spec" Beaulieu. Noble was arrested a few months later for permitting a game of stud poker on his premises. A fight in 1908 resulted in the arrest of owner W.L. Robertson and J.V. Robinson for "keeping a disorderly house." The following February, the White Front was in trouble again, this time for operating a slot machine. The Good Government League brought Robertson and other Plaza saloon keepers into court for such activity.

Caleb Nixon, an earlier proprietor, was back at the White Front in 1916. He bought two pool tables from the Idle Hour Pool Rooms and set them up in the back room. In 1919, with the enactment of Prohibition, Nixon opted to conduct his place as a pool room and soft drink house, rather than close his doors. Dry squad raids and not guilty pleas happened more than once ¬1923, 1924, and 1925. The last raid resulted in Nixon's arrest, but within the month, before he came to trial, Caleb Nixon died at age 58. Trouble at the White Front didn't end there as the saga continued with more raids and more fines into the 1930's.

Early 1900's Plaza photographs show that the White Front was generally hidden behind an awning. Plaza saloons typically covered their windows and unrolled awnings to hide the inside activities.