Before HiFi there was Reycroft

By ayr May 9, 2014


When our landlord was touring us through the space he pointed out this door and barrel roll and made a side comment that this was probably used for booze during prohibition.

When I was a kid I was obsessed with Al Capone and organized crime. I read everything I could get my hands on and imagined all of those secret tunnels in Chicago and black cars and tommy guns.

So this comment was enough to peek my curiosity. I went to the Historical Archives for Cambridge and found a ton of information about this building. Then I met Sarah Boyer who collected oral history for a book called Crossroads: Stories of Central Square. I bought the book and started reading. There are many mentions of bootleggers living on Brookline St. (the St. that intersects Mass Ave where we’re going to be opening our restaurant). Then I read about a big alcohol bust at a place called Reycroft. But the pictures I had of this building had a different name for the drug store. Then I found an original application for the building construction in 1897 and the proposed tenant was a Mr. Reycroft from East Cambridge. I’m guessing the name of the “Druggist” as they called it was changed after prohibition. Perhaps related to the big bust there?

So there you go, that’s the same door booze was shuttled through during prohibition. Must have been a crazy time in Central.

Think Cambridge would license a speakeasy for the basement? But that would sort of defeat the purpose of a speakeasy wouldn’t it : )

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