Originally Published: September 5, 2012 12:01 a.m.
PRESCOTT - For downtown businessman Dave Michelson, the address "South Montezuma Street" invokes little of Prescott's rich history.
On the other hand, he said, the term "Whiskey Row" has more than a century of history behind it.
"It really conjures up in people's minds the old west," Michelson said of the long-time nickname for the main block of Montezuma Street in downtown Prescott.
To help plant that image more firmly in the public's perception, Michelson and about three-dozen other Whiskey Row business owners are supporting an official name change from "South Montezuma Street" to "Historic Whiskey Row."
On Tuesday, Michelson presented the Prescott City Council with a petition containing 37 names - all in support of the name change for the block between Goodwin and Gurley streets.
"I went up and down the street," said Michelson, the owner of the Palace Restaurant and Saloon. Noting that "it is unusual to get 100-percent participation," he said he believes the name change has unanimous support from area owners.
Several of the other business owners attended Tuesday's meeting to show their support.
Tommy Meredith of the Jersey Lilly Saloon sees the term "Whiskey Row" as being immediately recognizable to Prescott's visitors.
"Nobody says 'be sure to look up Montezuma Street,'" Meredith said. "They say 'be sure to look up Whiskey Row.'"
In fact, Meredith identifies so much with the nickname that his business cards have listed his address as 116 Whiskey Row for the past five years.
"Any promotion we have, we use Whiskey Row," Meredith added. "Whiskey Row is Whiskey Row, and everybody calls it that."
Michelson said the block's current dual identity is sometimes confusing for tourists. "A lot of people come in the Palace and say 'where's Whiskey Row?'" he said.
Even businesses that are not in the bar or restaurant trade appear to favor the name change.
Candy Hull, the owner of the Clothes Hound store next to the Palace, attended the council meeting to lend her support.
"Whiskey Row represents Prescott, and we're really proud to have our business on Whiskey Row," she said after the council discussion.
Michelson said he has heard no concerns from business owners about the prospect of changing their letterhead or logos to the new address.
And he maintains that the change would create no issues with the U.S. Postal Service.
"You're going to get your mail regardless," Michelson said.
Meredith says mail is delivered to his establishment regardless of whether it is addressed to South Montezuma, or Whiskey Row.
The name change was on Tuesday's agenda for Michelson's comment only, and it generated little discussion from the council members.
Michelson pushed the council for a timeframe for the change, noting that he and other members of the Historic Whiskey Row Association are anxious to make it official.
City Manager Craig McConnell said the next step for the city would involve forwarding the proposed name change to various city departments for feedback.
After that, Mayor Marlin Kuykendall said the proposal would go back to the City Council for formal consideration. He estimated that that might happen by late September.