Slack Alice’s Show Pub burned to the ground in Penticton 10 years ago this week

Last glimpse of Slack Alice’s and Bubblee’s Beer and Wine Store before they were demolished after a fire ripped through three businesses on Front Street Feb. 5, 2012. Ken Helms of Cawston took this photo of the heritage building prior to its final demolition. (Ken Helms photo)Last glimpse of Slack Alice’s and Bubblee’s Beer and Wine Store before they were demolished after a fire ripped through three businesses on Front Street Feb. 5, 2012. Ken Helms of Cawston took this photo of the heritage building prior to its final demolition. (Ken Helms photo)

It’s been 10 years this week since a portion of Penticton’s historic Front Street burned to the ground including Slack Alice’s Show Pub, downtown Penticton’s only strip club.

In the early morning hours of Feb. 5, 2012, a fire ripped through Slack Alice’s and three neighbouring businesses.

The Valley Motor Inn, the onsite hotel that accompanied Slack Alice’s, was gutted as was the Chinese Laundry restaurant and Bubblee’s Beer and Wine next door.

The hotel, attached to Slack Alice’s, was first constructed in 1905 and had once also been known as the BC Hotel.

At the time, fire chief Wayne Williams said the building’s alarms activated at 12:23 a.m., and firefighters arrived to find a small plume of white smoke coming from the rooftop, which quickly turned to black smoke. Crews on the roof tried to keep the flames at bay, but receded just before fire broke through and “kind of exploded.”

That’s when the fire began spreading, and fire crews witnessed how quickly it moved through the historic building. Because of the age of the building, the fire spread fast and fire crews battled through the night and well into the morning.

By mid-morning, only a shell of the charred buildings remained.

Flames shoot from the roof of the building housing Slack Alice’s pub as crews from Penticton Fire Department battle the stubborn blaze that consumed three buildings on Front Street. (Heather Morrison Photo)

Flames shoot from the roof of the building housing Slack Alice’s pub as crews from Penticton Fire Department battle the stubborn blaze that consumed three buildings on Front Street. (Heather Morrison Photo)

Front Street remained closed for most of that Sunday, as excavators were brought in to tear down the brick chimney and several walls left standing that had been deemed unsafe.

The cause of the fire was not determined.

Slack Alice’s was the downtown’s only pub that featured exotic dancers. It also hosted several charity events before meeting its fate in 2012.

READ MORE: Fire consumes Slack Alice’s

The loss of Slack’s added to what was an already steady decline in bar and nightclub businesses in Penticton’s downtown core. The Mule nightclub was next, closing in 2016-2017. No new nightclubs have surfaced since. In the Mule’s place on Martin Street now stands Slackwater Brewing.

The fire of 2012 left an empty hole on Front Street and where once stood a busy nightclub, restaurant and beer and wine is now a parking lot and one apartment building.

The original Slack Alice’s site also had a parking area to the east. The parking area was redeveloped in 2016 (completed in 2018) to a 14 unit, 5-storey apartment building (135 Front Street).

The remainder of the site, where the building previously stood, is vacant and used informally as a parking lot. The vacant lot is under separate ownership than the apartment, said Blake Laven, city director of operations.

There was a development application on the vacant property that supported a 5 storey mixed-use building (office and residential), which was approved by council of the day in 2017 but the project never proceeded. Nothing substantive has resulted since, said Laven.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


 

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