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Prohibition-Era Sarasota Home Features a Secret Speakeasy Room

Prohibition-Era Sarasota Home Features a Secret Speakeasy Room

Curb appeal in Sapphire Shores

A piece of Sarasota, FL, history is up for sale. Dare you open the secret room and take a peek?

Listed for $ 1.1 million, this Mediterranean-style home in the Sapphire Shores area boasts vintage charm, a sweet location, and ties to Prohibition. Oh, and a link to the circus.

Built in 1925, the two-story, four-bedroom stucco home offers oodles of curb appeal from the brick-paved driveway to the vintage awnings.

Inside, modern convenience meets jazz-era charm. The barrel-shaped entryways lead to quaint living spaces with exposed wood-beam ceilings. The staircase features an Art Deco–style finial. In the kitchen, you’ll find wood countertops and stainless-steel appliances.

Old charm meets modern style

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Old charm meets modern style

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Old charm meets modern style

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The sellers finished some important renovations, namely consolidating some of the smaller (’20s-size) bedrooms upstairs into one large master suite, a better fit for today’s tastes.

A modernized master suite

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A modernized master suite

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A modernized master suite

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But one important secret of the past remains intact: a built-in bookshelf that’s more than meets the eye.

“There is a lever hidden on the bookshelf. If you pull the lever, the bookshelf opens, revealing a secret room. This is where they stored their alcohol during Prohibition,” listing agent Thomas Arbuckle says.

A century ago, it wasn’t uncommon for homes across the country to feature a speakeasy room. You may not need to hide your booze today, but Arbuckle thinks the secret spot would make a great wine cellar.

The speakeasy room

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Speakeasy

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The speakeasy room

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Outside, the back lawn is anchored by a welcoming pool and citrus trees. At the rear of the property, you’ll find another example of the past meeting the present.

“The old carriage house has been converted into a guest home,” Arbuckle says. “The owners left the barn doors on to keep up the look.”

The carriage house

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The carriage house

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The carriage house

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The property is a short walk from the dog park, Asolo Repertory Theatre, and The Ringling museum, which befits the home’s past.

John Ringling of Ringling Brothers Circus developed a lot of the area in Sarasota. There were supposedly eight Ringling mansions, and this is one of them,” Arbuckle says.

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Historians can’t confirm or deny if brothers John and Charles Ringling bought eight large estates to house their employees, but records show the home was owned by Henry Williford, John Ringling’s attorney, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

So far, there’s been a lot of interest in the property. “It is too soon to tell who might buy it,” Arbuckle says, “but for the property in the million-dollar range, it has piqued a lot of interest.”

We only hope the new owners keep the secret speakeasy well-stocked.

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