CARLISLE, Iowa (AP) – From a prison cell door to an antique trike to a model caboose, My Sister’s Place is both a bar and a museum.
The very fabric of the bar itself is woven from an obscured and forgotten history. The tin ceiling and wooden planks of the bar, which was built in the 1950s, come from a condemned and demolished barn in which Dick Rector, the owner’s father, salvaged materials.
Even the name of the Carlisle bar – My Sister’s Place – is historic. So historic, in fact, that the origin of the name is lost, said Dick Rector.
“I always wanted to bring Sister’s back to the community because I had the pleasure of experiencing it for a few years at the end of its life,” said Ben Rector, owner of My Sister’s Place. Register of Monks. “The city, I think, just needs a water point … a place to meet, talk and go out.”
Bar manager Jessica McCoy speculated that the name may have come from bar patrons or the owners themselves, who might have pretended they were going to their siblings rather than going out for a drink.
Dick Rector describes himself as a hoarder, but his collection of knick-knacks, oddities and antiques has turned the bar into an organized facility.
A t-shirt, donated by Ben Rector’s aunt, from the third RAGBRAI – the first year the event bears this name – hangs from the ceiling above a row of courthouse benches.
Dick Rector said he won the pews at an auction for the demolition of the Warren County Courthouse in 2019. Across the room is a jail door from the same palace of justice and a sign indicating “217 Jury Deliberation Room”.
Dick Rector said he tries to introduce new things to the bar to decorate every week. More recently he added three antique lanterns which now hang next to a large wooden sign in Bob White State Park.
Old railroad signs, cans of oil, tools and a model of a caboose hang from the ceiling, sit behind the bar’s beer taps and on shelves near a television. This particular collection comes from Dick Rector’s days working with the Rock Island Railroad Company in Allerton, Iowa, with his own father.
The original railroad line, which ran from Des Moines to Kansas City, ran through Carlisle on the rails in front of the bar.
McCoy said she thinks the assortment of trinkets adds style to My Sister’s Place, especially an antique tandem bicycle above the bar, her favorite.
“There is a different story to be told with each piece. Half of them are Dick stories, but several were donated by our patrons or even by myself, ”she said.
Ben Rector bought the building in 2016, three years after it was foreclosed by Warren County in 2013, according to the county assessor’s website. The moment Rector first entered the building he thought “it looked like an apocalyptic situation, like rapture struck in the midst of customers on duty.”
He said that in the three years since his seizure, glasses of beer, plastic straws, bottles of whiskey, bar food dried in freezers and refrigerator and an ATM full of cash had remained in the bar.
“As soon as you walked in you had to move cobwebs as you moved,” he said.
Ben Rector, a cook and restaurant owner in Colorado, said all he wanted for the bar was for it to be cleanable.
Ben Rector, his father, McCoy, and a large group from the community began a large-scale remodel and renovation of the bar in 2019, which transformed My Sister’s Place from the Rotten Shell to the historic waterhole it was.
He said the bar renovation cost around $ 125,000 – and around $ 8,000 from Busch Light for everyone who helped him.
My Sister’s Place has retained the bar’s original facade, with a new illuminated electric sign and new paint. The interior has been remodeled with a new stainless steel kitchen, a vaulted tin ceiling, and a concrete bar that appears to have been fashioned from marble.
Despite changes in ownership over the bar’s history, bar owner and Carlisle resident Dean Anderson said the bar remained largely the same before the renovation.
“It was a dump at the time, and until the renovation it was a dump,” he said.
Ben Rector said he wanted to add an outdoor patio behind the bar with an outdoor shelter for live music. He said he had ideas for other future renovations, such as a graffiti wall and a concert hall in the alley next to the bar.
One project Dick Rector said he’s working on involves covering the entire back wall outside the bar with around 800 license plates from all 50 states, plus Washington DC, one license plate for each of the 32 teams in the NFL and the 99 counties of Iowa.
Ben Rector has said that his dad’s habit of putting random trash in My Sister’s Place is something that “has been happening since day one,” but his dad always asks permission before adding anything new.
Dick Rector thinks his penchant for collecting or hoarding items is probably a bug he inherited from his mother.
“It stresses me that I have to part with things or make decisions to get rid of them. It’s easier to collect, ”he said.
The rector said three more prison cell doors at the old courthouse were in storage, where he had the rest of his belongings. He said it was all valuable to him, whether it was through his own memories or as historical elements.