It all began when Tony Norris, an instructor of classical guitar at George Washington University, Wash. D.C., and his wife Laura Norris, a violinist and music instructor, also at George Washington, teamed up with a friend to buy a decrepit bar in the backwater area of Baltimore (Fell's Point). The bar at the time was called "The Lone Star".
The Fell's Point area of Baltimore was a neglected, run down neighborhood of old bars, warehouses and 18th and 19th Century buildings lined by rough cobblestone streets. Most of these buildings had been converted into rooming houses with many of them completely dilapidated along the deserted market square. The neighborhood had almost "hit bottom". Most of this was centered on Thames Street along the Baltimore City waterfront. The northwest branch of the Patapsco River meandered past Fell's Point northward about a mile to the renewed basin that was fast becoming the center of Baltimore's new Inner Harbor.
The neglected waterfront area seemed to attract a very creative crowd. The Lone Star bar that Tony and Laura purchased around 1972 picked up an almost instant clientele due to its funky location. Tony found a stained glass memorial window in a Baltimore junk shop, this window was dedicated to the memory of Bertha E. Bartholomew, whose identity remains unknown to this day. The stained glass window displayed with lighting behind it was hung over the bar and thus the bar became known as Berthas.