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Antique whiskey barrel uncovered at newly minted downtown event bar

by Junius Stone | November 23, 2021 at 10:00 p.m.
Irma and Jeff Wright display an antique barrel found at the downtown property while converting it into The Hideout. Based on where it was buried and its charred wood interior, local historian Dr. Beverly Rowe says it was used to distill whiskey. (Staff photo by Junius Stone)

TEXARKANA, Ark. -- The Wright family has been steadily obtaining and preparing downtown properties to live anew in the cultural and entertainment district.

El Frio Express has been serving up frozen drinks for several months now. Another property further east on the north side of Broad Street will eventually become apartments.

But recently, The Hideout took to the stage. This speakeasy-themed event bar has welcomed relaxing Texarkanians, enjoying beverages and entertainment, including mixed martial arts action. However, in seeking to both preserve local history as well as celebrate the same, the Wright family did not think they would literally unearth it. But they have.

"Dr. Beverly Rowe has advised us that this is a barrel that a downtown whiskey distiller aged spirits in," Irma Wright said, holding a small barrel.

Rowe has long been involved in the preservation of local history.

"We found it while working on this place," said Jeff Wright. "It was literally right on our doorstep."

The barrel was found under three levels of street, according to the Wrights. A total of four feet of surface excavated, two layers of pavement, one a cobblestone street.

"Right below that we found this," he said.

"Dr. Rowe said that the wood charring on the interior of the barrel indicated what it was for," Irma Wright said

The barrel was restored by Joe Gay, whose skills also have been put to task on Crossties, another entertainment venue, across the street.

The wood is original, though refinished. The metal components have been replaced by new ones.

The barrel is one of several artifacts and pieces of artifacts that can be found throughout The Hideout. They are being preserved and displayed there for the enjoyment of their customers, the Wrights say.

(The Hideout is located at 311 E. Broad St., Texarkana, Arkansas)

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