Listed: Manchester-by-the-Sea mansion had a siren, vaults, and guards to protect liquor stash

Buying Fall House Hunt Luxury
This 10-bedroom Manchester-by-the-Sea mansion sits on more than 5 acres. Paul Aquipel

Area real estate people know it as “Boulderwood” or maybe the “Sydney Allen Estate,” but few have been told the nefarious history of 1 Dexter Lane in Manchester-by-the Sea, which is on the market for $6,500,000.

Originally built by finance attorney Philip Dexter in 1908 on a hill with views of Kettle Cove and the Boston skyline, the home gained notoriety during Prohibition. Dexter reportedly drank alcohol sparingly, but liked to entertain his friends and colleagues. He kept enormous quantities of expensive liquors, wines, and champagnes in the basement.

After the Volstead Act went into effect, Dexter had large steel and concrete vaults similar to the ones seen in banks constructed in his basement to safeguard the liquor. The booze was brought in by boat at night, carried overland to the house, and delivered into the basement through a small manhole in the driveway, according to newspaper clippings the town’s historical society provided.

Armed guards kept the cache safe around the clock. After liquor was stolen from a neighbor’s home, Dexter had a siren installed on the roof. It sounded each day at noon to signal all was well. If it went off at any other time of day, the police would respond immediately. When Prohibition ended, the siren was donated to the town for air raids, but the vaults remain.

The 16,747-square-foot home, which took two years to build, sits on 5-plus acres of undulating lawns, boulder outcroppings, and stone walls. It has 10 bedrooms, nine full baths, three half baths, and 13 fireplaces, each with a distinctive hearth and mantel. The home has two kitchens, and though it is currently being used as a single-family, it could be a two-family, according to the listing agent, Julie Gamble Smith of Engel & Völkers by the Sea.

“One morning at dawn, after we first opened up the view to Boston, the rising sun reflected off the John Hancock tower [now known as 200 Clarendon St.] and created a brilliantly glowing orb.  At first, we wondered if this would only occur once a year when everything was perfectly lined up, but it happens all the time,” one of the owners said in a statement.

There are 14-foot ceilings, the original gold-plated door hardware, and 15 heating zones. The current owners installed a 1,000-foot-deep well to irrigate the grounds.

See more photos of the home below:

Jim Morrison can be reached at [email protected]. Subscribe to the Globe’s free real estate newsletter — our weekly digest on buying, selling, and design — at Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @globehomes