Prohibition-era gangsters once hung out here
A photo gallery of this Mystery Place is HERE
Once a hangout for Chicago gangsters, the former Red Chimney resort is located on the south shore of Lake Como, just west of downtown Lake Geneva. During the Prohibition era, Al Capone and John Dillinger visited the speakeasy.
The building had several names over the years -- most recently it was known as the French Country Inn and Kirsch’s restaurant. The current name is Wakefield’s Euro Cuisine & Speakeasy.
The original structure was built in Denmark in the 1880s. It was transported by ship and rail to Chicago as the Danish pavilion for the 1893 Colombian Exposition. The building was purchased by the Knotter family, and from there it was brought to its present location along Lake Como. The family used it as a private residence and hunting lodge.
It was then bought by the Hermansen family, who converted it into a resort and restaurant. It soon acquired the reputation as a “quick getaway.” Bugs Moran’s name often appeared on the guest list. Probably a good reason that he chose this location was that his wife divorced him and married Hermansen. Coming here he could see his ex-wife and son.
Other infamous names connected with this location during the 1920s include Capone, Jack “Machine Gun” McGurn and Dillinger. This was a place where they could relax away from the stresses in Chicago.
Over the years the building was used as a private residence, hunt club and a first-class hotel and restaurant,
During Prohibition it became a speakeasy and gambling casino. Later it became the Red Chimney Inn ... a fine restaurant. A signature red chimney still can be seen on the restaurant.
There are rumors that the slot machines, which in early days could be found in the basement speakeasy bar, the Sewer, now reside in the bottom of Lake Como. They were dumped during a raid.
Another rumor says that during a remodeling project, the bones of two bodies were found in the building. Many other stories circulate about the special Chicago visitors and their bodyguards.
In 1971 the property was bought by Eugene Liechty. They planned to open the old Como Hotel as the New Red Chimney Inn. During their remodeling, they tore down a wall and discovered that the men’s rest room had a fireplace. They decided to restore it to make this a unique feature of their business.
A fire destroyed the kitchen and dining room and the building stood empty for several years. In the mid-1980s, Joseph and Rose Navilio bought the property. They had been summer residents for about 30 years. They came up with the idea of a French country inn. They had visited a similar establishment on a trip to San Francisco.
The building was carefully restored, including the parquet patterned floors and the carved banister.
It is now a bed and breakfast establishment with 33 rooms which overlook Lake Como, plus the restaurant, which serves lunch and dinners to the general public.