Spot Fermilab history at the Frontier Pub

The Users Center’s new Frontier Pub, converted from a game room this year, celebrates the American West and pioneer era with themed decorations. While some of the decorations were chosen simply because they fit the theme, others have historical significance here at the lab. If you find yourself heading to The Frontier Pub to grab a drink and bite to eat, here are some of those historical points of interest.

The bison head

A large bison head on the wall of the pub stretches almost two feet from the top of its head to the tip of its nose and sports horns each roughly a foot long. The bison was moved to the Users Center around the year 2000, though it has been hanging around the lab far longer — possibly more than 30 years. The pub also displays blown-up images of the current herd taken by lab photographer Reidar Hahn, and it will soon have a Bison Head Ale on tap.

The “Atoms for Peace” sign

A sign on the wall that reads “Atoms for Peace” is thought to be from around the time the village of Weston was under consideration for the site of the National Accelerator Laboratory, the lab’s original name. The sign was likely a part of an active campaign from some of the people in Weston to bring the lab to their area, and someone may have prepared it for a 1966 inspection of Weston by the Atomic Energy Commission. The phrase “atoms for peace” originated in a speech by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953, and it became the name of a later government program and international conference. The sign itself is a copy, but the original was used in the pub’s opening and has been returned to the History Room.

Symbols of farm life
On the walls one can find hints of the farms that occupied the land before Fermilab, reflecting the more agrarian past of the site. Photos on the wall show five of the barns originally on the land, two of which (Anderson Barn and Heikotter Barn) are still standing. The window ledges are decorated with wood originally from those barns, and 16 old farm tools from the Geltz Farm are mounted on two chicken wire displays in the pub. Horseshoes from the former horse barn of Ellen and Leon Lederman, Fermilab’s second director, are mounted on wood scraps outside the kitchen, next to an old barn ladder. You can see the names of the horses (Sunny and Minx) carved into the wood.

Apart from the pub, the Users Center contains the restaurant Chez Leon, a bar, a meeting room for work-related gatherings, a game room with ping pong and pool tables, televisions, a piano and an outside area with tables and grills.

The Users Center opened in the summer of 1973. Before then it had been the lab’s cafeteria, until Wilson Hall opened in 1973 and the cafeteria moved there. The building was then converted to a hangout spot for scientists new to the lab and their families to encourage a sense of community onsite.

For hours, special events and more information, check out the Users Center website or the Frontier Pub menu.

Thanks to Diana Brandonisio, Tom Eggleston and Valerie Higgins for their work in making The Frontier Pub the inviting Village space it’s turned out to be.

Brandonisio developed the concept behind the pioneer look of The Frontier Pub.

She and Eggleston selected the antique items that adorn the space. Eggleston installed the larger items in The Frontier Pub, as well as the large bison photographs. He also came up with ways to exhibit hard-to-display objects, such as cast iron stove parts. He coordinated with Ellen Lederman to obtain the horseshoes.

Higgins offered the Getz farm tool collection for display in The Frontier Pub, as well as the Weston village sign for the pub’s opening. (Fermilab has since taken a photograph of the sign, leaving the original sign with Higgins.)