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Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:03

Batcheller Mansion Wants To Invite You To Their Speakeasy

By | News

SARATOGA SPRINGS – In 1919, representatives from 46 out of 48 states ratified what would become the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution. The amendment proposed making it illegal for businesses to sell or distribute alcohol in U.S. territories. Later that year, Congress would override a veto from President Woodrow Wilson to pass the Volstead act, which further defined the language in the amendment, and set the official start date of prohibition for January 17, 1920. The legislation would create an entirely new subculture of bootleg alcohol distillers, who would supply the newly illegal substance to underground nightclubs more commonly known as “speakeasies.” One of Saratoga Springs’ most prominent buildings, the Batcheller Mansion, was sometimes used by its owners as the venue for the lively, yet illegal gatherings.


Local historian and author Hollis Palmer recently discovered family documents suggest that Friday the 13th was a popular night to throw these parties.  Not only that, but the party’s guest list typically read as a who’s who of Saratoga’s cultural elite. In honor of its role in this unique history, the Batcheller Mansion invites you to attend their Speakeasy Party taking place - you guessed it - Friday, April 13.

“The family that owned the mansion at the time was one of the more notable families in the city and they somehow believed prohibition didn’t apply to them in any way, shape, or form,” said Palmer. “So what they’d do is throw these phenomenally fun parties.”

Palmer says the April 13 party will try to capture that very spirit, as the Batcheller Mansion will roll back the clock ninety years and offer you the chance to experience what it was like to attend an authentic speakeasy.  Guests can expect ragtime-y piano music, dancing, light snacks and a cash “hooch” bar provided by The Lily and the Rose catering service.

Tickets to this 21 and older event are $20, and require advanced registration by calling the Batcheller Mansion.  Attendance is limited, so those interested should act quickly. From there, you’ll receive an email packet, complete with the ‘password’ you’ll need to get inside. Just like in the 1920’s no one without the password will be allowed entry into the party. The packet should also contain directions on entering the mansion on party night.

“After all, it’s a speakeasy, so you can’t just use the front door,” said Daniel Del Gaudio, innkeeper for the Batcheller Mansion.

It’s not mandatory that you brush up on your prohibition-era dances, as Palmer says the majority of people attending speakeasy parties rarely concerned themselves with how to dance. Guests are encouraged, but not required, to wear their most 1920’s inspired attire, ranging from flapper dresses to fedoras.

“The fashion police, like the regular police, will not be in attendance,” jokes Palmer.

In case you can’t make it to the April party, you may be in luck, as the calendar year of 2012 includes two months where the 13th ends up on a Friday.  A second party is already being planned for July 13, which Palmer says is already starting to fill up with guests from beyond Saratoga Springs.

“It’s all about enjoying history and having fun while you’re doing it, because that’s what they were doing, except to them it wasn’t history,” Palmer says with a laugh.

For more information on the event or to reserve your spot on the exclusive list of attendees, call the Batcheller Mansion at (518) 584-7012.

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