Special Report

Grab a Drink, on the Sly, at One of D.C.’s Former Speakeasies

Prohibition might have lasted longer in D.C. than anywhere else, but that didn’t stop the District from throwing a few back

Police officers stand proudly with jars and crates of moonshine, brewed illegally duirng the prohibition. Washington, D.C. (© CORBIS)

Historic Gaslight Building

Today, the Historic Gaslight Building, located at 1020 16th St., N.W., is an unassuming office building—but during Prohibition, it housed a prominent social club, known as the Gaslight Club, with a well-hidden speakeasy on the third floor. On the inauguration day of Calvin Coolidge, March 4, 1925, federal agents raided the club, arresting the owner, a retired admiral, along with 25 others, including senior government officials and diplomats.

To find the speakeasy, the agents had to discover its secret entrance—located in the men's room. To enter, patrons had to turn a faucet handle, which opened a hidden door. According to Peck, the club's manager, who wasn't arrested, played dumb about the speakeasy's disguise, stating "Why, I've used that men's room a hundred times, and never knew there was anything but an unused storeroom in back of it."

1020 16th St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20006

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