Actually, the street is named after the Congress Hall Saloon, built in 1868 at Congress and Meyer Avenue.
The saloon hosted informal meetings of the Arizona Territorial Legislature when Tucson was the capital of the territory. In 1871, a meeting of prominent townsmen was held there, during which the municipality of Tucson was organized and officers elected. The saloon's builder, and owner for more than 30 years, Tucson pioneer Charles O. Brown, was chosen as one of the councilmen.
Brown was born in Essex County, New York in 1829, and his family moved to Illinois when he was about 12 years old. Sometime later he ran away and headed to the California Gold Rush, where he made his fortune.
In 1860, he came to Tucson and soon after married Clara Borvean, a Mexican woman from a respected family.
He built the Congress Hall Saloon on Calle de la Alegria (Happiness Street) and Meyer Avenue. In 1870, the Tucson map shows that Calle de la Alegria had been renamed Congress Street in honor of the important saloon, where the legislators met.
It was a gambling house and saloon when owning a bar was a perfectly honorable profession and also served as a place where miners and cattlemen could meet, write letters or read. The floors were made of fine wood from Sante Fe, the locks were of the best quality, and there was a large safe in the back.
Newspapers from throughout the country were available, and many of the fanciest dances of the day were held in the large, L-shaped building.
The saloon's operation passed to Brown's sons in the early 1900s. It's unknown when the hall closed but, it was knocked down in 1912, the year Arizona became a state.
Brown died in 1908.
* Special thanks to the library staff of the Arizona Historical Society and Postal History Foundation.
* Interview with Josephine Brown Macteague, Oral History Transcript (Arizona Historical Society).
* Charles O. Brown biography by J. del Castillo (Arizona Historical Society).
* Wallace E. Clayton, "Charlie Brown's Saloon," The National Tombstone Epitaph, Oct. 1989.
* Star archives.
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