Vancouver History Blog

The Forbidden Vancouver Blog

Vancouver Courier features Secrets of the Penthouse

Aaron got snapped deep in thought outside the Penthouse Nightclub by the kind folks at the Vancouver Courier. The newspaper came to hear about Forbidden Vancouver’s event Secrets of the Penthouse – the evening includes a guided tour, Italian dinner, and live music and is fast becoming one of the city’s most popular things to do!

Aaron Chapman at Secrets of the Penthouse

Vancouver Courier tells the history of the Penthouse

Built in 1947, the Penthouse Nightclub has a fabled history…

After Frank Sinatra’s 1957 gig at the Orpheum he famously said, “That’s it everybody, see you all at the Penthouse.” The line to get into the Penthouse that night was 3 blocks long. Ross and Mickey Filippone had to slip Sinatra through the Penthouse’s back entrance, where he came inside to mingle and drink with club guests.

The Penthouse was also famous as one of the only venues in town that didn’t discriminate against black performers. Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, and Sammy Davis Jr. all performed at the club, with Sammy Davis Jr. even staying in the family house next door.

Up until 1968 the club operated without a liquor license, with patrons smuggling liquor inside. On the tour you can see the alarm bell that sounded in Joe Philippone’s office when the spotter on the roof saw the police driving up Seymour St en route to raid the club. Once the alarm sounded guests were quickly warned to hide any booze from sight! Fortunately all the guest tables had secret compartments to store the booze (Secrets of the Penthouse guests see one of those vintage tables on the tour!).

The Penthouse is of course still in business today, and is still owned and managed by the Filippone family.