- Posted August 28, 2013 by
Speakeasy Inn, The Only Original Shop Left, Spillville, Iowa
The Czech composer Antonin Dvorak spent the summer of 1893 in Spillville. Spillville native Joseph Kovarik had met Dvorak while in Prague. When Dvorak was invited to New York City, Kovarik came along as his secretary. Dvorak did not like the noises of the city, so he jumped at Joseph's invitation to spend the summer in Spillville. While in Spillville, lived in the building that now houses the Bily Clocks Museum. Dvorak composed two of his most famous chamber works, inspired by the sounds of the birds he heard at the creek near the Old World Inn.
After A. A. Novak sold the building in 1908, it was operated as a tavern, a harness shop, a tinsmith shop and a post office.
There is much dispute over the purpose of the tunnels in the basement of the building. Some claim it was used during Prohibition to smuggle liquor. One of the tunnels went to the river, while the other tunnel went to a saloon, but not everyone agrees liquor was smuggled in through the tunnels. This mystique led to the "Speakeasy" name.
The building sat empty for most of the time between 1953 and 1983. In 1983 it was restored by former Decorah resident Bruce Pierce, with help from Spillville Mayor Ed Klimesh, and operated as a bed and breakfast and restaurant. Another renovation in 2002 by Jack Eggspuehler added a two story kitchen and storage area to the rear of the building. After the restaurant closed in 2009 and the City of Spillville took over the building, the Albertson and Andera families bought the building and operated it for two years before Robert Gust and Lori Faust purchased it in March of 2012. Robert Gust is now the sole owner and has left the operations to General Manager and Executive Chef Randy Schultz.
The Speakeasy Inn is a National Register of Historic Places building.