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The old Scottish pub that found a new life in California

  • By Georgina Davies
  • BBC Scotland News

Image caption,

The new Californian residence for St Mungo Vintners

An old Scottish pub has been given a new life in the US, on the hi-tech headquarters of California well being agency.

The Art Nouveau inside of St Mungo Vintners – with its darkish wooden, stained glass and brass fittings – was saved by an antiques vendor when the pub closed its doorways in Glasgow in 1974.

It was shipped to the US the place it gathered mud in a warehouse for years.

The bar and its fittings have now been purchased by medical app agency GoodRx and used to construct a “speakeasy” for workers.

California antiques vendor Mitchell Litt mentioned St Mungo Vintners was “beautiful” when he first noticed it on Glasgow’s Queen Street in the 1970s.

Designed by architects MacWhannell & Rogerson, it was constructed in 1904 in the type of the Glasgow School – impressed by architect Charles Rennie Macintosh.

Image supply, Mitchell Litt

Image supply, Mitchell Litt

Image caption,

St Mungo Vintners closed its doorways in Glasgow in 1974

Mitchell mentioned: “I had no thought at that time who Charles Rennie Mackintosh or that college of structure was, or anything of that nature.

“What principally attracted us was the leaded glass home windows, there have been fairly a few all through the pub.

“It was just basically the art nouveau interior and the way the whole thing looked.”

Mitchell had arrange an antiques agency together with his spouse in 1973, importing gadgets from Europe to promote in the United States.

Image supply, Mitchell Litt

Image caption,

Mitchell Litt cherished the pub’s stunning Art Nouveau stained glass

On their second or third journey to Glasgow they visited St Mungo Vintners and determined to purchase the pub.

“I forget the price we paid,” he mentioned.

“I could envision it in a place in Southern California where I was from.”

From the commercial streets of 1970s Glasgow, Mitchell shipped all the pub inside in a 40ft container to the sunshine of Long Beach, California.

But together with his new firm primarily targeted on shopping for and promoting furnishings, it ended up tucked away on the very again of Mitchell’s warehouse.

Image caption,

Doug Hirsch is co-founder of US well being agency GoodRx

It remained there for nearly 50 years, till Mitchell’s son despatched a pal, Doug Hirsch, an old newspaper clipping concerning the pub.

Doug was the co-founder and chief mission officer of GoodRx.

He wished to create a old-time “speakeasy” bar at his firm’s gleaming new headquarters in Santa Monica – the place his employees might collect and chill out.

Located in a former Santa Monica pen manufacturing unit, the open-plan workplaces are seamlessly trendy, with loads of pure mild.

But nestled in the constructing’s pc server room is a door that results in one other period, that may really feel surprisingly acquainted for anybody that ever drank at St Mungo Vintners.

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Fixtures and fittings from St Mungo Vintners in their polished new setting

The lengthy curving bar, stained glass home windows and mirrored gantry at the moment are polished and shining in their new setting – a Californian homage to an old British pub.

“I’ve always been in love with English and Scottish pubs,” mentioned Doug Hirsch.

“When I was in college I studied abroad in England and of course, I spent time in Scotland.”

Doug mentioned the pub set up took virtually two years from begin to end, however the Covid pandemic delayed GoodRx staff with the ability to take pleasure in it.

He mentioned his “speakeasy” was now a key a part of attracting individuals to work for the corporate and bringing staff again into the workplace.

Some components of the pub have been tailored for contemporary use, together with a part of the bar that was minimize and lowered for wheelchair accessibility.

Image caption,

Doug wished some enjoyable new touches for his speakeasy

“It was a big project, said Doug. “Everything else round it was a fairly vital price range, to not point out the constructing of this room itself.

“There’s some additionally trendy enjoyable touches, which you may not discover, like these lights above.

“Those are literally old LA streetlights, however we refashioned them by hand to make them look extra interval applicable.”

Mitchell Litt admits he had initially been “considerably reluctant” to promote St Mungo Vintners.

“I all the time had a fond place once I considered that pub and the way stunning it was, so I wasn’t in any hurry to maneuver it,” he mentioned.

But Doug believes his headquarters has grow to be the right residence for an old Glasgow bar.

He mentioned: “Gathering individuals collectively in a social atmosphere to get to know one another – particularly once more in a world of distant studying and other people observing computer systems – that is sorely wanted for us all.”

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