Bringing History Home: The Allure of Speakeasy Doors and How to Create One at Home

generated image of flappers opening a speakeasy door

Bringing History Home: The Allure of Speakeasy Doors and How to Create One at Home

Giving your home or business a historical look can make your design more attractive. How can you take your architecture to the early 20th century? Speakeasies were a staple during the Prohibition to drink alcohol and party in secret. If you like the security and allure of hidden bars, you can install a hidden speakeasy door in your home.

History of the Speakeasy Door

In January of 1920, the 18th Amendment became official, banning the sale and production of alcohol after the states voted to ratify it. Prohibition ran rampant throughout the early 1920s, with pioneers like Henry Ford going as far as to call alcohol one of the “most deleterious things in modern life.” What did this mean for bar owners?

Your bar suddenly lost its primary revenue source, forcing you to find alternative strategies. The establishments that didn’t close became regular businesses like stores or offices. However, the road many took was to operate a speakeasy with hidden doors.

Preventing Unwanted Entry

Entry to these bars was more complex for the general public because you needed permission to enter. Speakeasies often used doors with sliding peephole windows to see who was there. Access typically required a password or specific knock to prevent intruders from coming in.

Such methods have a long and fascinating history. More than 2,000 years ago, similar tactics were employed along the Great Wall of China, which contains at least 220 secret doors for military strategy. Like speakeasies, these passageways required a password to enter.

Going to Great Lengths

Speakeasies operated quietly to avoid tipping off federal and local law enforcement. The owners went to great lengths to protect their businesses by constructing fake walls or incorporating trap doors to get rid of alcohol bottles quickly.

Alternatively, some bar owners bribed local law enforcement to ignore them and warn of federal raids. Research shows that Prohibition included police and political corruption as organized crime took over Chicago and other major cities. Speakeasy security started with their creative doors, so having a checkpoint was integral for keeping your bar open.

Door Design

Speakeasy owners wanted customers to patronize their establishments, so many remained discrete. The dark doors reflected the dim lighting and unassuming interiors because they didn’t want law enforcement to wonder what had happened in their buildings. 

However, some secret doors had intentionally rebellious designs. For example, the Dill Pickle Club of Chicago lasted nearly 20 years with a prominent “DANGER” message above the door. Artists, authors and musicians gathered in these establishments to drink and socialize with the community. 

Thanks to modern technology, secret doors have become more flexible to fit your needs. You can use nearly any object as a switch to unlock a hidden door in your home or business. Do you want a speakeasy door for your pub to give it that classic feeling? Are you looking for a secret bar hidden in your man cave? Creative Home Engineering can help you reach your goals, whether your objective is fun or safety.

CHE’s Options for Hidden Doors

If you’re considering a hidden speakeasy door, here are some factors to consider:

  • Secrecy switches: The method of unlocking the speakeasy door is just as crucial as the door itself. For example, a wine secret door can open by turning one of the bottles a specific way. The movement might activate a tiny tilt fob hidden in the cork that would act as a switch, opening a hidden bar or storage area for your alcohol. This can even be done with filled bottles to drive in that natural camouflage.
  • ADA compliance: The law requires 60% of public entrances to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). If installing it in a public bar, your speakeasy door must be wide enough for people to enter easily.
  • Easy opening: Your speakeasy door should also be relatively easy to open, especially when alcohol is involved. If not, patrons that know it’s there may damage it because they can’t figure out how to get in. Once unlocked, the door should be easy for your customers to access.
  • Designing the camouflage: Your secret door should reflect the room it’s in. Bottle racks are classic camouflage choices for a secret room inside a bar. Creative Home Engineering has used pool tables that rise from the ground or doors hidden behind cue racks to achieve the ultimate secrecy. Your speakeasy could similarly use a curio cabinet near the dining room.
  • Special sections: If you have a home bar, you could use the speakeasy door as your passageway to a room exclusive to your most valuable stash or even your own distillery, activated by a switch in one of your prized bottles.

It’s important to note that even when fun is your main motivator, the hidden door will always provide extra security as well. All of Creative Home Engineering’s doors are designed with optimal camouflage as a priority, making your speakeasy a great place to hide your valuables — or yourself — as need be.

Showing Off Your Speakeasy Door 

Speakeasy doors take you back in time with fun door ideas that use modern technology. Your home or business can design the doors to open with a wine bottle, pool cue, or other hard-to-guess objects.
Are you interested in a speakeasy door? Contact the Creative Home Engineering team to start your journey. The experts will help you determine the specifications and critical details for your customized secret door.