Haunted Museum Club in
The Museum Club Today, photo by owner Martin
Zanzucchi, from The Museum Club.
The Museum Club, a
Route 66 icon in
Arizona, began its
life as the boyhood dream of taxidermist Dean Eldredge in 1931. When Eldredge found a petrified frog as a child in Wisconsin, it
spurred a lifetime as a sportsman, adventurer and collector. Dean began his taxidermy business in 1918. In the early 1930s Eldredge saw an opportunity when he purchased a piece of federal land,
three miles east of Flagstaff on Route 66. Soon, he hired unemployed lumberjacks to cut trees, haul them to his
property and built what he touted as "the biggest log cabin in the
world.” Later he would revise his claim to "the biggest log
cabin in the nation,” then to "the biggest log cabin in Arizona.” In any
case, he finally had a showplace for his lifetime collection of
stuffed animals, six-legged sheep, Winchester rifles, Indian
artifacts, two-headed calves, and more than 30,000 other items. Operating as a museum, taxidermist shop, and a trading post, scores of
stopped in to visit Dean and his collection during the five years that
he operated the museum. Before long, locals dubbed the museum
"The Zoo,” a name that has stuck with the building to this day.
Unfortunately, when Eldredge died of
cancer, most of his collection was sold and the building was purchased
by a Flagstaff saddle maker named
Doc Williams. In 1936, Williams, profiting from the many
travelers of the Mother Road
and the end of Prohibition, opened a night club that was an immediate
Over the years, the building passed
through several owners and survived as a nightclub, recording studio
and roadhouse. By the 1950s, the club had deteriorated to a rough
and tumble roadhouse patronized by a crowd that often times preferred
a little blood with its beer.
In 1963, Don Scott, a steel guitarist
who’d spent time with Bob Wills’
Playboys, bought the club and moved to Flagstaff along with his wife
Thorna. Scott wasted no time turning the club into a country music
dance hall and began to book old friends like Wills, and new ones,
like Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson. "Pappy,” as Scott was
called by his friends, had many contacts in the music industry and
before long he put the club "on the map” in the western swing circuit. Wynn Stewart, Wanda Jackson and the Texas Playboys were just a few of
the acts which appeared at The Museum Club. Many aspiring recording stars, making the pilgrimage from
Nashville to Las Vegas, would book into The Museum Club. Some, like Barbara Mandrell, simply showed up, grabbed a
guitar and played impromptu.
Living in an upstairs apartment in the building, both Don and Thorna Scott
were active in running the successful club until 1973, when a tragedy
ended Thorna’s life. After a long night, the couple had closed the
club and Thorna headed up the stairs to retire for the evening, leaving
Don behind on the first floor to finish up.
The Dean Eldredge Museum, courtesy
Interior of the museum in 1932, courtesy
However, before she
reached the apartment she apparently tripped and fell from near the top of
the stairs. Breaking her neck, Thorna lapsed into a coma and a few
weeks later she died. Don Scott became terribly despondent after her
death, suffering from constant memories of the event and loneliness. Unable to endure the pain any longer, Don took his own life in 1975 by
killing himself with a rifle in front of the fireplace.
1978 Martin and Stacie Zanzucchi bought the club, began extensive
restorations, and added taxidermy mounts, antlers and period pieces to the
club. Today, "The Zoo" continues to host the rising stars of country
music and the new sounds of Nashville. Recent concert performers have
included Asleep at the Wheel, Marty Brown, and the Clinton Category.
Popular groups such as Mogollon, and Rednecks-The Band, play regularly at
The Museum Club.
Interestingly, the club
not only hosts its many country western musicians and fans, but also the
ghosts of former owners Don and Thorna Scott. Signs that Don and Thorna
never left are evident to employees as well as guests. Footsteps and
creaks are often heard coming from the upstairs floor where they once
lived, lights have a habit of flickering on and off, chairs rock back and
forth on their own, and fires have been lit in the hearth when no one is
around. Thorna apparently makes her appearance at all hours of the
day, often seen on the back stairway and the back bar where confused
patrons sometimes mistake her for a bartender. She's also been seen in
dark corner booths too. Occasionally customers will buy her a drink only
to find she has vanished when they return.
Don and Thorna Scott, courtesy
The Museum Club.
Museum Club Sign, Flagstaff, Arizona,
Kathy Weiser, 2015.
Image available for photo prints & editorial
One man, who lived in the upstairs apartment
for a time, says he was pinned to the floor by a friendly female ghost. Evidently, Thorna has a sense of humor in her life beyond the living, as
she stated to the man, while sitting on his chest, "You only need to fear
the living." Then the apparition disappeared. Wasting no time,
the tenant broke through the upstairs window, ran across the roof and
disappeared, never to return.
One bartender, just starting her shift, was
surprised to see the bar shelf disarrayed. Beer bottles were switched
around, drink mixes were at the wrong end, and some liquor bottles had
been knocked over. Because the bar area had been straightened up the night
before, she had no choice but to blame it on the Scotts.
Many guests of the
establishment have taken pictures and videos where they report ghost like
images appearing on the film.
Recently, one employee of
the Museum Club
reports that though the power in the upstairs floor has been shut off, the
lights have been coming on more and more often. Others have reported
also seeing the lights from the street while driving by late at night.
Once located on the
outskirts of town, this old highway watering hole is a Route 66
throwback now surrounded by present day Flagstaff. Today, the Museum
is a popular roadhouse and dance club, offering the best in live country
western and after hours entertainment. Check out the great music at
the Museum Club and while you’re there, keep your eye out for a ghost or two
lurking in the background.
is 2 1/2 miles east of downtown Flagstaff
on Route 66.
of America, updated May, 2017.
The Museum Club
City of Seven Wonders
Flagstaff Vintage Photographs
Troves in Flagstaff
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