Slovakian immigrants Stephen and Mary Mrlak opened the Turf Exchange hotel and bar in Binghamton, New York, two years before Prohibition began. A discovery made recently behind the hotel reveals that, after Stephen's death in 1922, Mary continued peddling illicit booze through a secret passageway.
"Granny always told me if we hadn't sold liquor, we'd have lost the place," said Bob Barcay, 45, from Fort Collins, Colo. Barcay is Mary Mrlak's great-grandson.
The hidden rooms below the parking lot contained wooden kegs, bottles and an elaborate pulley system left to decay since Prohibition was lifted and the rooms were sealed. A team from the Public Archaeology Facility at Binghamton University began an excavation Thursday of the hidden chamber.
"I've been sitting here over the years wondering if anybody would find it," said Norah Barcay, 86, of Colorado Springs, Colo., who is the granddaughter of Mary Mrlak. [Link]