ST. AlBANS – With the opening of The Clothier, a speakeasy that pays tribute to the rich retail heritage of downtown St. Albans, the 1920s are coming back to northwest Vermont after a century.
During a party that attracted guests dressed as gangsters and flappers, Tom Murphy officially opened The Clothier at 22 North Main Street in early December.
The Clothier’s “storefront” features authentic 1920s furniture and apparel, as well as an original Schonbek chandelier, and a Prohibition-themed mural by St. Albans artist Jon Young.
Patrons can access The Clothier by entering a faux changing room in the front and pushing on an empty candlestick that hangs on a wall.
The Clothier is connected by “secret entrances” to Twiggs American Gastropub which Murphy also owns, a nod to G.P. Twigg, who operated a men’s and boys’ clothing store from the late 1880s through the turn of the century.
Murphy and his staff designed The Clothier with the utmost authenticity, from the chess set and red-velvet pool table to the baby grand player piano near the full bar.
The bar, where martinis and cosmos are served, was constructed from an old bowling alley that was once in the Swanton Recreation Center.
Murphy is asking patrons to put their phones away and interact with each other, which is one of the missions of Sweethearts & Heroes, the national anti-bullying team he co-founded in 2011.
“The themes here are connection and belonging, and we need more reasons for people to come to St. Albans,” said Murphy. “This is not just about the spirits. It’s about The Spirit of Humanity.”
Speakeasy bars that mimic the illicit clubs from the 1920s have been a growing trend nationally in the last decade, and the Volstead Act, which sparked the 18th Amendment and prohibition, will turn 100 in January 2020.
The Clothier will host a New Year’s Eve Bash on Dec. 31, and attendees must wear 1920s-era attire or accessories to attend.
“This is totally different than any other place in town,” said St. Albans resident Sam Dussault, who dressed as a flapper during The Clothier’s grand opening.