ANACONDA — Months after being gutted by fire in an incident that struck an emotional chord with residents, the Club Moderne bar in Anaconda will reopen Saturday with an event that’s anticipated to last until the wee hours of the morning.
Stephanie Hekkel, who owns the historic building at 801 E. Park Ave. with her husband John Hekkel, said the grand reopening will take place from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. The celebration includes an outside block party along with food, prizes, and music from the Anaconda Ancient Order of Hibernians Pipes and Drum Corps and local band The Genuine Article.
In earlier interviews with The Montana Standard, Hekkel described the Club Moderne as a place that’s been home to generations of Anacondans. The building, famous for its Art Deco design, is on the National Register of Historic Places. It opened in 1937, and some of its most loyal customers were smelter men from the Washoe Smelter, Hekkel told the Standard in December.
At the scene of the fire’s aftermath in October, the Standard interviewed residents, one of whom described the loss of the Club Moderne “the most devastating thing to happen to Anaconda.” Later on, Victor Zenahlik, a captain with the Anaconda Fire Department, said he felt "heartbroken" and "sickened" when he got the call to respond to the Club Moderne.
In the months after the fire, the Hekkels have been busy rebuilding the bar, receiving in-kind support and material donations from Anaconda residents along the way, and on April 28, they held a soft reopening.
When asked what it’s like to see the faces of the Moderne’s regular customers, Hekkel said it feels good to be back home.
John Hekkel, meanwhile, gave the Standard a tour Tuesday of the work that’s been done on the 20th-century bar.
In addition to new electric wiring, air-conditioning, and plumbing, Hekkel said most of the interior has been completed, including the installation of new lighting and flooring and the refurbishing of the Moderne’s front and back bars, both of which survived the fire.
He pointed to a few dark shapes along the top of the front-room bar, which are burn marks from the fire, he said.
He added that he and his wife were able to salvage several items and materials that preceded the fire, including some of the furniture — which they’ve reupholstered —; three gaming machines; and parts of a quilted, leather ornamentation. Hekkel has repurposed the leather, which now decorates the sides of the bar in the back room.
From the outside, meanwhile, passers-by can see the bar’s yellow siding has been replaced and that a new, Art Deco door leads to the bar’s main entrance. The trim came from the original door, Stephanie Hekkel said, adding to the list of repurposed material.
As for the building’s iconic neon lights and curved carrere-glass façade that frames the main entrance, the Hekkels said they’re waiting for their lights to be repaired and that a new glass façade is being shipped from St. Louis.
In addition, the Hekkels have purchased the building next door to the Club Moderne, but John Hekkel said he’s not sure what the family will do with the new space yet.
On Tuesday evening, a line of patrons sat at the newly refurbished front room bar munching on popcorn and taking in libations, many of whom said they’re happy to be back at their favorite watering hole.
Anaconda resident Jason McElroy described the Club Moderne as a neighborhood bar that exists in a time when neighborhood bars are disappearing.
He said the interior of the bar, although slightly altered, still boasts the vibe that he’s used to.
“It’s great,” said McElroy. “It has the same feeling.”
Anaconda resident Ken Parks, meanwhile, is a man of few words.
Parks, who began patronizing the bar almost as soon as it was back in business, described his reaction to the October fire as simply “sad eyes.”
And what was the feeling elicited by the Club Moderne’s reemergence?
Parks only had three words to say:
“Home sweet home,” he said.