PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Omni William Penn Hotel wants to take you about eight decades back in time to the end of prohibition.

“It just really creates another piece of the rich history of the hotel,” Marketing Director Bob Page said.

The speakeasy is tucked under a stairwell in the historic hotel, exactly where it used to be during the 20s.

They located old whiskey bottles distilled for the hotel in 1911, 1912 and 1913. They are proudly displayed in a case near the vintage-looking bar.

A twist of fate helped them find 20 old seltzer bottles.

“We had an old one, which isn’t functioning anymore, so it’s great to now have functioning seltzer bottles,” Food and Beverage Director Riaan Nel said. “The bottles we found were actually used in the hotel. I think it was around about the 1960’s that it was discontinued.”

The goal in making the speakeasy was to make sure it was historically accurate and that includes an escape route if there was a police raid. The speakeasy has an escape route built-in that leads down a hallway and to a back staircase that leads out onto Oliver Street in downtown.

However, the hotel staff at the hotel is banking on the fact that no one will want to leave.

“The shape of the bar is what it used to be, so we kept that intact so it is designed around that mahogany bar that used to be, so we still have some of the character of the bar that was the front bar of course,” Nel said.

“As people come and experience this, I think there will be a lot of stories that will be shared from grandparents and generations past who potentially may have frequented the speakeasy here in the William Penn,” Page said.

The speakeasy opens on Dec. 6, on the 79th anniversary of the end of prohibition.


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