New-York Historical Society

East Hamptons Hooch

Belle Livingstone, a former showgirl “with poetic legs”, was one of the best-known speakeasy owners in New York. She ran the Fifty-Eighth Street Country Club, which offered its patrons $40 champagne and a miniature golf course. After it was raided in late 1930, she spent a month in prison.

Poster for Hoyt’s A Milk White Flag, the show that made Belle Livingstone famous (PR 055, Strobridge)

Undaunted, Belle transplanted her operations to Reno, and eventually made her way back to New York, this time to East Hampton, Long Island. More recently, Belle resurfaced in our collections with the discovery of this typewritten press release in N-YHS’s copy of the 1933 Social directory of Southampton.

Press release, found in Social Directory of Southampton (F127.L8B65 1933A)

Dated for release on June 30th, 1933, it announces the opening night of Belle Livingstone’s Hampton Country Club, in East Hampton. This event would “find prominent members of the stage and screen joining the social elite of Long Island”, with entertainment by “Dimitri, tango instructor to the Infantas of Spain”, and Princess Alexandria de Tolly Weymar Semijradow, interpreting “native Tatar dances”. The club featured an English tap room, with furniture imported from “a famous old inn in the south of Essex”, and “another amusing room … the beach room, which is decorated in the same manner as the Club’s cabanas on the beach so that guests lunching in the beach room may later adjoin [sic] to the shore for a dip with no change in atmosphere”. Sadly, the “dream of a transplanted Deauville”, as she describes the Hampton Country Club in her memoir, Belle out of order (also held by N-YHS), did not restore Belle’s fortunes. Gangsters moved in, set up a gambling operation, and stole the club’s furniture at the end of the season; there was no opportunity to set up a new club before the end of Prohibition, in December 1933.

Belle Livingstone’s memoirs, titled Belle out of order (CT.L7913A3)

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