APR 2017 – Member Profile – Speakeasy of State Street

Take a step back into the chamber and glamour of the late 1800 at Speakeasy on State Street

Finished in 1899, the Columbia building was the last building built on the first block of E. State Street and has been utilized for gatherings both large and small. Located on Redland’s iconic State Street, this historic gem was closed since 1948.

Karl C. Wells was an astute businessman and banker in Redlands during the mid to late 1800s. Mr. Wells was responsible for donating the original land to found the University of Redlands in 1907.

Wells had for a long time dreamed of owning a downtown business building but was unable to do so until 1899. The majority of East State St. had been built up during the late 1880s; however the only structure standing at 10 E. State St. was the home of M. F. Pierce which was removed by force due to a fire ordinance enforced by the city. In 1899, Wells christened his “Columbia” building and it was first occupied by Meserve’s Clothing Store the following year. Only a few years later in 1902 the Redlands City Directory shows the upstairs of 10 E. State St. was utilized as a meeting lodge for a fraternal organization founded during the American Civil War named The Knights of Pythias. By the late 1930s, the building was home to a chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The City of Redlands leased the VFW hall to host community dances and as a recreation center. The city continued its use of the building through the 1940s.

Following the end of World War II (1945) the VFW moved to a different location. According to the City of Redlands Archives use of the second floor of the Columbia building during that time waned. It is believed that the upstairs portion of 10 E. State St. was utilized during the Prohibition Era (1922-1933) as a speakeasy (aka. illegal drinking spots). Today Speakeasy on State is still equipped with its red light which helped indicate to customers the need to hide all alcohol. In the pocket doors leading into The Ballroom you’ll find two holes, the upper hole was utilized to visualize anyone seeking access, the lower of the two holes was utilized for the weapon that helped ensure there was no trouble.

The building was most recently purchased in 2012 and the second floor has been completely restored with some modern updates.  Speakeasy on State offers 4,ooo square feet of elegance, mixed with beautiful hard woods, raw exposed brick, and the finest period specific details – found nowhere else in town.  Proudly representing the heartbeat of downtown Redlands, Speakeasy on State boasts two large gathering rooms, each with their own distinct feel, a bridal suite, restrooms and a preparation kitchen.

Entering into to Columbia Room, you will gasp as you step into this beautiful space.  You’ll find wall to wall hard wood floors, large elegant period specific chandeliers, exposed brick and mortar dating back to the inception of downtown Redlands, all brightly lit with natural lighting shining through tree massive double hung windows.  The Columbia Room is a perfect backdrop for your next weeding ceremony or private dinner party.  The Ballroom beckons you through the oversized pocket doors where you’ll stop in your tracks as you try and take it all in.  the vaulted ceiling, the Edison lights, the original ceiling fans, the red prohibition light, the high sided wood wainscoting, and the wall to wall sparkling wood floors will transport you back in time.  The space has been equipped with custom designed sound panels to help with the acoustics for your special event.

If you are looking for a unique location for your next very special event call the Speakeasy on State Street, 909.501.5524 to arrange for a visit or log onto www.speakeasyonstate.com and step back in time.