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The Speakeasy

CIRCA 1889

Historic Marker 19 is located at 1117 Duval Street.You are looking at the home of Caribbean rumrunner Raul Vasquez. Vasquez purchased the home in 1920. He was a well-liked member of the community and was highly regarded by his neighbors. Vasquez was an infamous rumrunner throughout most of the Prohibition Era. He made frequent trips to Cuba to bring back as much liquor as possible.On one particular trip, Vasquez brought back the elaborately carved balustrade that adorns the porch. It was made in Sagua la Grande, Cuba. Why he didn't have one of Key West's skilled carpenters make it will always remain a mystery. His daughter, Mary, reported that when he brought the balustrade home, her mother was upset because he had filled up cargo space with that instead of the liquor he was supposed to carry.It has been theorized that Raul chose this elaborate balustrade for his house not simply for decoration, but as an advertisement for the speakeasy he ran in the back of his home. Dubbed "The Florence Club," because, according to Raul, a few of his patrons had wives named Florence, the club was a successful and popular speakeasy during Prohibition. When Raul was out of town, which he often was, the club ran on an honor system. There was a large marble slate on which the patrons kept track of what they drank. At a convenient time, Raul would settle up with them. According to Raul "No one ever stole a single bottle."