Corner Bar pleads for return of items salvaged after fire

Rockford, Corner Bar
The remains of the Corner Bar in Rockford. (Dec. 5, 2017)

ROCKFORD, Mich. (WOOD) — The owners of the Corner Bar in Rockford were able to save only a few things after a devastating fire. Now, those items have been stolen.

The owners are making an appeal to whoever took a portion of the “Wall of Fame” and a window to return them.

In August, a fire ripped through the iconic restaurant and bar at the corner of Main and Courtland streets, burning for hours as it was fueled by an open gas line and destroying nearly everything.

Now, with the wreckage cleared, all that’s left is the storefront and a huge hole.

“It’s a lot easier I think to look at it now when it’s almost cleaned up. The beginning process was hard. It was hard to watch it come down,” bar co-owner Sarah Wolfe told 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday.

She said that’s progress.

“I think this give us some hope,” she added.

She and her husband Jeff Wolfe have a goal for their rebuild: to preserve any history they could, like the front of the building, which dates back more than 140 years. As demolition began in early November, crews braced the storefront and took out the charred remains of the building. As they searched for anything worth salvaging, they found an old window. They also discovered a portion of the bar’s Wall of Fame, which bore more than 5,000 names of people who had downed 12 chili dogs within four hours.

Corner Bar, wall of fame
Photo: What remained of Corner Bar’s wall of fame after a devastating fire. (Dec. 5, 2017)

But this weekend, they discovered the Wall of Fame had been stolen.

“We had it leaning against the fence over here along with a partial wall of names from the ‘Wall of Fame’ and somebody took it from inside the fence here,” Sarah Wolfe said. “We would love to have it back if anybody knows where it is. No questions asked. They can take it over to (Aunt Candy’s Toy Company across the street) and leave it.”

For the community members who frequented the Corner Bar, there’s sentiment behind saving anything.

“(People) had their first dates with their husbands, wives here. So many stories — and people are still coming out to tell those stories, which is fun,” Wolfe said.

She said the rebuilding process has been emotional.

“It’s a roller coaster. Yeah, it’s day-to-day, but we’re hopeful now, looking forward to the future,” she said.

Crews will start working on the foundation in the next few weeks.

There are a couple of changes to the new design of the bar. For example, the hot dog window will go on Courtland instead of Main Street. There will also be an upstairs patio.

The Wolfes plan to reopen sometime next summer.

>>App users: Renderings show what the rebuilt bar will look like