The Round House Bar opened for business as the Columbia Restaurant in June of 1873 according to an article found in the Sandusky Register. The Columbia Restaurant served refreshments including beer, wine and food. However, the real treat back in those days was ice cream and cottage cheese. There was no electricity, so the ice had to be cut during the winter months and stored in the Ice House (which is now located on the Put-in-Bay Winery estate) allowing for this summer time favorite. Banners for ice cream stretched from The Round House across the street to De Rivera Park. Originally the building was white and the front porch had steps with no railing stretching across the front of the building.
No one is sure how the bar was renamed The Round House. An 1888 article names one of the first owners as George F. Schmidt (or Smith). Legend has it that G.F. was known as "Round House" Smith...or maybe because the bar was round, he was named "Round House Smith". It also states that G.F. built The Park Hotel fifteen years later. The Park Hotel was first called the Park (Deutches) Hotel.
In 1944, the Greunkes had purchased the Round House for $11,000. They had the circular bar itself built in Toledo by a Cincinnati Brewing Co. Mrs. Gruenke was a pianist that entertained in the Round House but did not like playing "in the round" with her back to the audience. Hence the reason the bar is now located where it is today. They simply cut the bar in half and moved it to its present location. The Greunkes are also responsible for the addition of the canopy which was gold and red back then. The canopy was installed to catch the falling plaster from the walls and ceiling, and to improve the over all acoustics of the room. The canopy today is not a parachute, but indeed, flame-retardant fabric cut and hand sewn by two island girls.
The McCann family purchased the Round House in the early 1950's and painted it the now famous red color. The entire building is wood constructed and for the most part, all original, except for the interior floor and the front porch. The plastered walls have always been a part of the building, and are now adorned by Canoe Bob's murals. A back bar addition, outside patio and retail shop have now been added to the historic Round House Bar.
The Round House Bar has always been known for its neon "WHISKEY" light above the front door, live entertainment and buckets of beer. This currently holds true to this day.
In April of 2013, the McCann family had the famous red building painted with a red, white and blue flag by creative patriot artist Scott LoBaido. The flag was to commemorate The Round House Bar celebrating its 140th Anniversary and the Bicentennial Celebration of The Battle of Lake Erie.