11/29/11 - posted by Jo Anne Q.
Here's the story, Patty. Woody said it was OK to put it in this thread, even though it's kind of long...

(Remembered by Rita Eastman and chronicled by Jo Anne Quinn)
My father had a connection with a bootlegger’s home, which was situated on the block I grew up on. I cannot reveal the home’s address, as I’m sure the current (elderly) owner would not appreciate being visited by overly-enthusiastic history and architecture buffs!
The original owner had a legitimate business but, in the late 20s, when Prohibition looked like it was here to stay, I’m sure he saw a potential gold mine in having a house built to contain special “features;” which would aid him in making and selling liquor now banned by the Volstead Act. So, he had a home custom-built by Henry Doelger.
The 1928 home was larger than the other homes on the block. It had a garage on the ground floor, plus the upstairs main living area (including living and dining rooms, kitchen, bathroom, and bedrooms). There was a third floor containing a bedroom with huge walk-in closets and a view of the distant ocean. This home also had specially-built hidden rooms and secret hidey-holes throughout.
In the garage there was a 3’X4’ platform. If you lifted it up, you would see a staircase which led down to a subterranean room, closed off by a metal door. The door had a horizontal slit in it so the room’s inhabitants could peek out to see who was on the other side. The room contained storage racks for liquor, plus an area for partying and card-playing. Behind that room was another smaller room where a still was housed.
There was also a special wall. If you felt around the base of the wall - you found slots you could slip your fingertips into, allowing you to roll up the entire wall (just like a roll-top desk). Inside were more racks for storing liquor. On another wall was a secret door which, when pressed on in a special place, led to additional storage racks. As an added precaution, all the home’s ground level windows had bars on them.
The perimeters of the living room ceiling, and one wall of the typical “spare room” in the back of the garage, were decorated with beautiful art work. The owner told my Dad these accents had been created by an artist who had also created the artwork in the old Fox Theater. I’m not good at identifying art, but I recall the decoration as looking baroque: buxom ladies, cherubs, trees, fruit, etc.
Some time in the late 60s or early 70s, my Dad bought this house (from the son of the original owner) specifically because of these unusual features - which by then had taken on a very colorful and historical flavor. I still recall walking through the house with Dad while he shared the stories and showed me the secret places.
At that time I think my Dad told me the City was considering taking steps, (prior to these homes being re-sold) to require any garage sub-floor rooms, and other hidey-holes, be sealed off. In other instances the City might have wanted to bar re-sale deeming the homes to be “unstable.” However, I am not sure how accurate this is, as my memory is very fuzzy. I’m hoping some Outside Landers may have more factual information they can contribute to this story to correct my possible mistakes.
Regardless, my father wanted to preserve the footprint of this unusual building before that happened. He later had a “meeting of like minds” and sold it to a family who also appreciated this very unique dwelling and had no plans to change it.
Today, the house remains just as it was when Doelger built it those many years ago.

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