Beer Mug from Horatio’s

mug obverse

Beer mug from Horatio’s from 1977. Donated by: Mark Kelsey (1983:030:003)

If you were a student at SDSU in the 1960s and 1970s you know all about Horatio’s. Hort’s, as it was known, was an ’18 bar’ meaning it sold beer with only 3.2% alcohol. It was legal in South Dakota at that time for 18 year-olds to drink ‘3.2 beer’ and Horatio’s was the only place in town that offered it.

The original Horatio’s building was a bowling alley and sat where the west parking lot of the First National Bank is today. It opened as a bar in 1963. In 1975 it was moved to where the present day NAPA Auto Parts is at 419 3rd St.

The bar was open Wednesday-Saturday nights during the school year. They had live music every night and a large dance floor that was always packed.

SDSU alum have fond memories of the watering hole. In those days fewer students brought cars to college so people stuck around looking for things to do. Hort’s was the answer. Often times so much beer was on the floor people slid from table to table. Many alum credit the bar with being the place they met their spouses.

The legal drinking age in South Dakota changed from 18 to 19 in the late 1970s. This marked the beginning of the end for the bar. With their heavy traffic, it was difficult for employees to keep up with checking IDs. The bar took another blow when a student union was built on campus which became another place for students to gather. Faced with new competition from a new bar, Friday’s, Horatio’s closed its doors in 1981. But the memories still live on.

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Information from: The College on the Hill by Amy Dunkle with V. J. Smith