The historic Louvre Saloon in Guerneville along the Russian River was once the most popular watering hole in the area. Located on the northwest corner of Main Street and Armstrong Woods Road, it served the best spirits from the 1880’s into the 1960’s. The building still stands, having housed the Russian River Video store for twenty-five years and presently the Community First Credit Union.
The Guerneville & Russian River R.R. Line (an addition to the San Francisco & North Pacific R.R.) used to transport passengers to the Louvre Saloon’s front steps from the ferry building in Sausalito. An outdoor beer garden (circa 1920’s) was located across the street while inside there was a card room in the rear with rumors of one-arm bandits stationed nearby to relieve you of your money. In more recent times, boxing great Carl Bubba Olsen used to receive free libations in exchange for the saloon using his name for promotional reasons.
The Louvre Saloon has gone the way of other established businesses in Guerneville. Meeting a similar fate was the old Mercantile across the street, which was sold recently to a wealthy investor from San Francisco who might have intentions of turning it into a B&B. True? Outside money is pouring into the little hamlet, and the town seems to be divided on the merits of such monetary infusion. On the one hand you have the N.Y.Times, Sunset, and AAA all touting Guerneville as a “food destination”. A documentary film titled Main Street Empire will be coming soon to a theater near you. The tourists are flooding in, “no vacancy” signs are common on the summer weekends. Good, right? On the other hand, you have longtime locals fearing that their small shops may not be able to withstand future rent hikes and necessary upgrades while jobs go to outsiders. What do you think? Yea or nay?