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Welcome to Speakeasy on State: A Glimpse into the top Redlands Event Venue

Updated: Jul 7

Welcome to our blog! At Speakeasy on State, we celebrate the rich history and vibrant community of Redlands, CA. Nestled in the heart of downtown, our venue is not just a space for events—it's a living piece of history. Let’s take a journey back in time to discover the fascinating story of our unique venue.

Columbia Room Event Venue Chandelier

The Vision of Karl C. Wells

Karl C. Wells was a prominent figure in Redlands during the mid to late 1800s. Known for his astute business acumen and dedication to the community, Wells played a pivotal role in shaping the city. One of his most significant contributions was donating the original land for the University of Redlands in 1907. However, Wells harbored another dream—to own a downtown business building. This dream materialized in 1899 with the christening of the "Columbia" building at 10 E. State St.

1929 Columbia Building Venue

The Early Years: From Clothing Store to Fraternal Lodge

The Columbia building quickly became a hub of activity. In 1900, Meserve’s Clothing Store became its first occupant. By 1902, the upstairs of the building found a new purpose as a meeting lodge for the Knights of Pythias, a fraternal organization founded during the American Civil War. This period marked the beginning of the building's diverse history, hosting various groups and activities over the decades.

Knights of Pythias VFW Building

Uniform rank of the Knights of Pythias, photographed in front of Smiley Library in 1902

A Community Center During the War Years

In the late 1930s, the Columbia building became home to a chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). The City of Redlands leased the VFW hall to host community dances and as a recreation center, making it a focal point for social gatherings. This vibrant community usage continued through the 1940s, bringing joy and togetherness during challenging times.

Redlands Post 2062 VFW
Speakeasy On State Event Venue VFW

The original VFW glass pane from the window inside the Columbia Room still hangs above the stairs in Speakeasy On State.

The Prohibition Era: A Secret Speakeasy

One of the most intriguing chapters in the building’s history is its rumored use during the Prohibition Era (1922-1933). The upstairs portion of 10 E. State St. was allegedly transformed into a speakeasy—a hidden spot where patrons could enjoy a drink despite the nationwide ban on alcohol. This clandestine activity is reflected in some unique architectural features that remain today, such as the red light indicating the need to hide alcohol and the peepholes in the pocket door leading into The Ballroom.

Restoration and Revival

The building underwent a significant transformation when it was purchased in 2012.

Ballroom venue decor

Historical Ballroom Venue

It is believed that the building sat empty from 1975 to 2012.

When the new owners went up to the second floor, they were surprised to find decorations from the last party held in the Ballroom in the 1970s.

The second floor has now been meticulously restored, blending modern updates with its historical charm. Today, Speakeasy on State stands as a testament to Redlands' rich history, offering a unique venue for events that combines elegance with a touch of nostalgia.

Step into History

When you visit Speakeasy on State, you’re not just walking into an event venue—you’re stepping into a piece of Redlands' storied past. Our venue is equipped with original features that tell the tale of its colorful history. Whether you're planning a wedding, corporate event, or private party, Speakeasy on State provides a backdrop that's both historic and enchanting.

Stay tuned to our blog for more stories about the history of 10 E. State St., upcoming events, and behind-the-scenes looks at what makes Speakeasy on State a premier event destination in Redlands. We look forward to sharing this journey with you and hosting your unforgettable events.

Welcome to Speakeasy on State—where history meets celebration.

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