This Overlooked Benton Harbor Building Was Once Site of a Legendary Speakeasy
A few blocks from the resurgent Arts District in Benton Harbor sits a section of the city once known as Little Italy. Located along historic Territorial Road this section of town once flourished with recent immigrants, and as the story goes, a speakeasy during Prohibition Days.
The story and site of the speakeasy were mentioned on the Benton Harbor Historical Preservation Society on Facebook, part of a larger photo essay on Little Italy.
Here's how they describe the piece of land and its history:
The location where there once was a barbershop, pool hall and speakeasy. Originally owned by Tony D’Amico, then later by his father Filippo D’Amico and eventually Tony’s cousin Sam Siriano. (This is not the original building) Territorial Rd between Second St and Third St.
Berrien County During Prohibition Days
Whether or not the speakeasy alluded to here has an underworld connection or not, the Benton Harbor area was very much tied to midwest mob activities, as explored by MafiaHistory.us which explains
Away from the big-city spotlight, regional underworld characters utilized Berrien County for several purposes, ranging from its use by Prohibition period figures in leisure activities, through to deploying the area as a safe place in which to dispose of a body, and as a base for moonshine liquor production
Further, author David Critchley shares
Late in April 1927, Prohibition agents announced "the biggest liquor haul ever made in Berrien County, and one of the largest in the state." Leo Ciaravino...owned the biggest plant, featuring three stills capable of producing 240 gallons of liquor daily. At Tony Domingo's farm, an 80-gallons distillery was uncovered, along with 18 gallons of liquor and 2,000 gallons of alky manufacturing mash in barrels.
Just east on Territorial Road a block and up Morton Hill sits Benton Harbor's most historic and stately homes and a fascinating bit of speculation about tunnels running under the homes.
Hideous crimes or petty, the location of some of America's most infamous wrongdoing is some fascinating armchair exploring.