25 years ago: Owner reminisces about Sanctuary’s past as well-known tavern closes its doors
From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for Nov. 7, 1987:
After months of rumors, the Sanctuary, that Lawrence landmark at 1401 W. Seventh, was really going to close its doors for good. Ace Johnson, owner of the popular town and college hangout for the past 22 years, said today that he was clearing out after three more weekends to make way for an apartment complex. “You better believe it,” Johnson said on a recent Friday night. “I started my 23rd year last Sunday. I’m tired of the grind. Twenty-two years, seven days a week, sometimes 15 or 17 hours a day. It’s time to move on to a new thing.” Johnson and a cousin had bought the lease for the original Sanctuary building Nov. 1, 1965, for $287 from the owner of a tavern called the Stables. For his money, he reminisced today, he had gotten a few cases of beer, some returnable bottles, cleaning supplies and a dirty building. The Stables had actually served as a horse stable from 1929 to 1948, Johnson related, and in its first incarnation as a bar it had not looked much cleaner. After some heavy-duty scrubbing, the Sanctuary had opened its doors for business, only to find that the returning clientele from the Stables days were “not the kind of people I wanted,” said Johnson. “At the time, practically all of the sororities on campus had barred their members from going into the Stables unless they have a date, and sometimes not even then…. It wasn’t safe for a woman to come by herself.” Under Johnson’s ownership, the business had attracted a wide variety of town and college people; Johnson reported that he was beginning to see the third generation of customers. Describing the building’s new future as an apartment complex, Johnson said that he had tried to sell the place to someone who could keep the bar open, but no one could pay his price.