The Phyrst 50

A Bar in a College Town

A Documentary Film by Blue White Media celebrating 50 years of The Phyrst

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Blue White Media announces the production of a film about the iconic Phyrst Bar in State College to be released this Summer. "The Phyrst 50: A Bar in a College Town" will capture the stories of the people who have helped the local establishment persevere in Happy Valley for half a century. Production is underway and the film will premiere Summer, 2018. 

The wooden door.

The Phyrst Phamily.

Table wars. The sign. Ernie. The Mug Club.

Saturday Night.

Oh yes, something there is different.

Countless thousands love The Phyrst.

Few know its story...Until now.

Fifty years ago, a 22-year-old landscape architecture student named Don Bartoletti signed a $250-a-month lease at 111 ½ E. Beaver Ave. for a bar he had wanted to create since arriving in State College four years earlier. This bar would be a welcoming place where businessmen, students, Viet Nam vets, and those just passing through could have a drink, tell a story, sing a song, argue about politics, and do so freely, without prejudice.

In 1969, “Bart” would be joined by a 44-year-old father of six, a WWII vet and an engineer at one of the Defense Department’s largest contractors. Together, the unlikely duo of Don Bartoletti and Ernie Oelbermann would prove the power of a bar was not unlike that of a church. Ecumenical. Sincere.


College towns need these places. At Penn State, dozens of them have come and gone throughout the years, impossibly important for a group of people for a fixed time, and then gone and forgotten just as quickly. And yet, The Phyrst persists.