Over on the empty lot on the northeast corner of Hill Street and Irving Avenue, there sits a little green building inside of a fenced area. It’s an old garage, and along the top of the garage door a faded sign is decorated with shamrocks and says, "Harp Hall."
It’s very unassuming, fronting the alley that runs behind the roller rink (the Midtown Ballroom) and sharing the cinderblock lot with a few seemingly non-running cars. I first noticed it last year when I was taking a walk during my lunch hour; intrigued, I Googled it and came up with basically nothing, other than an oblique reference to Harp Hall being a garage pub, now closed.
So I filed it away in the back of my mind until a month or two ago when The Source Weekly mentioned it in an article:
[Duane] McCabe had seen enough of his friends piling into his downtown-Bend garage to take in a Sunday football game or the NCAA tournament while getting nothing in return. Rather than turn them away, McCabe opted to start charging them. Brilliance is the word we’re looking for to sum up that decision. After securing the proper liquor license and accomodating his garage with a wood-burning stove, a few more chairs and various other pieces of furniture, McCabe’s garage turned into a fully functioning bar.
And then this month the current issue of Bend Living tells a more detailed verson of the story behind Harp Hall, which opened in 1996:
Recent Celtic culture in Bend is the story of Harp Hall—a garage converted into a makeshift pub, modeled after the pleasure and social clubs of New Orleans and attended largely by members only. It had Guinness, Harp, Irish whiskey, music, the close camaraderie of early Irish clans and, of course, stories of its origin.
Harp Hall mobilized thereafter and began its own traditions. Its members would march through downtown streets and bars on St. Patrick’s Day.
"We’re proud of the fact that we’d get a standing ovation at the D & D [bar]," McCabe said. Some admirers had even reserved tables at The Pine Tavern every March 17 to witness the merry marauders, McCabe said. So charismatic was their appeal, McCabe added, they were even cheered by the same publicans when, forgetting they had already marched through a bar, they returned for an encore.
Harp Hall the garage pub is no more; but the Harp Hall Annex lives on, upstairs above the Domino Room (both part of Midtown), says The Source: "The Midtown Ballroom ultimately adopted Harp Hall—making it no longer technically a garage pub."
I was able to find a random page on the web with some photos of the pub here. Who knew?
Just an interesting bit of Bend history I thought I’d share in time for St. Patrick’s Day.
Updated 3/19: Fixed a link.