Hinsdale remained a dry town until 2001

Series: Hinsdale 150 | Story 37

For more than a dozen years, the Eighteenth Amendment made it illegal to manufacture, transport or sell alcohol in this country.

In Hinsdale, Prohibition lasted another 68 years.

While the ratification of the 21st Amendment in 1933 meant an end to Prohibition nationwide, it allowed state and local authorities to remain dry.

Hinsdaleans worried about the sale of liquor in town from the early days. In 1878 an ordinance was passed to prohibit bars and drinking establishments in the village. Spirits could be sold only in quantities of four gallons or more, for private consumption at home.

As was the case across the country, people who wanted a drink found ways to skirt the law. And with demand came supply. Unlicensed, illegal drinking establishments known as "blind pigs" opened everywhere, including Hinsdale.

One nearby location where residents could pick up something to whet their whistle was the Graue Mill.

"DuPage County Sheriff Hattendorf and a squad raided the mill in 1928, netting 'a goodly stock of home brew and moonshine liquor in the mill building, including 15 one-pint bottles of moonshine liquor, 36 one-pint bottles and 52 one-quart bottles of home brew beer,' " according to an article by Tom Sterling in The Doings centennial edition.

The Hinsdale Improvement Association targeted these establishments, and the local newspapers did their part to sway public opinion against them.

"The Doings will fight against it to the last, not because we believe that a man does not have a right to drink if he wishes, but because saloons would contaminate the moral atmosphere of the village, open a den of continual temptation to our young men and hinder the growth and progress for the community," according Sterling's article. "Even after the national repeal of Prohibition in December 1933, the Village of Hinsdale voted to rely on existing ordinances and regulations when with the sale of liquor to ensure that Hinsdale remained dry."

In 1995, residents approved a referendum to repeal Prohibition by a very narrow margin. That vote was challenged, based on questions about the signatures that placed the referendum on the ballot in the first place. The objectors won, essentially overturning the vote.

It took another six years for Prohibition to end in the village. A referendum overturning the ban on liquor in restaurants passed with 66 percent of the vote in April 2001.

Since that time, the village board has expanded the number of liquor licenses it grants to establishments in town, which stands at 21 this year, in three different classes.

The breakdown is as follows.

• four Class A1, packaged sale of beer and wine only

• two Class A2, packaged sale of alcoholic liquors

• one Class A3, packaged sales at boutiques

• one Class B1, restaurant license for sale of beer and wine only

• one Class B2, restaurant license for sale of alcoholic liquors

• four Class B2, restaurant license for sale of alcoholic liquors, and B4, restaurant license for sale of alcoholic liquors and packaged sales

• two Class B5, breakfast/lunch service only restaurant license for sale of alcoholic liquors

• three Class C, personal services

• three Class D1, annual special event license

Author Bio

Author photo

Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean