Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Everleigh Club

The most famous house of ill-repute in history, the Everleigh Club, operated at 2131-33 S. Dearborn St., now the site of the Hilliard Towers. Little is known with certainty regarding the history of Minna and Ada Everleigh, the Madams of the house. At times they claimed to have been born in Kentucky or Virginia, to have been married to an abusive set of brothers in Missouri, to have been reared by their father, a famous attorney, and to have traveled the country with a vaudeville show. In later years, a woman claiming to be their niece wrote that they were sold into prostitution by their parents, having lost everything in the aftermath of the Civil War.

Whatever their history, they operated the Everleigh Club between 1897 and 1911 as the Queens of the Levee, and catered to most of the leading men of Chicago, as well as visiting royalty (literally, in one case) from abroad, including Marshall Field, Jr., who died under mysterious circumstances after being a guest here.

The Club had a sold-gold piano and one of the nation's top chefs catered meals in a replica Pullman dining car inside. The entry fee was $50, and few men left without spending three or four times that much in a night.

The location would be near the entrance to the Hilliard Towers Apartment Homes, a renovated public housing project built in the 1960s.

7 comments:

NoorInaya said...

I'm currently reading a book entitled Sin in the Second City, which is about the Everleigh sisters. Your blog is very nice because it shows what's standing on those infamous lots today. I had been wondering, and am happy to see what's there now!

Chicago has definitely changed a lot in the last 100 years!

Kendall said...

That's a good book. Thanks for the comment!

medusa1977 said...

I to am reading "Sin in the Second City", which I am enjoying very much. Do you have any idea when the Everleigh Club building was finally demolished?

Kendall said...

The building was demolished on July 24, 1933 because the owner failed to pay property taxes.

My understanding is that it remained as an empty lot until the 1960s when the Hilliard Towers project was built. At that time, practically the entire Levee district was razed, and even many of the streets, including the block of Dearborn St. where the Everleigh Club sat, were vacated.

Walking around the old Levee district, it's difficult to even picture the way it was during the salad days of 1895-1915.

Anonymous said...

i just finished that book to. And when i read about a place called bucket of blood, i was once told that my stepgranfather owned a beer garden on i think 21st and california, and it was called the bucket

jwarnke said...

Can anyone provide a picture and the sales history of the gold piano? Was it a well known manufacturer? Where did it finally end up? thanks for any info you can provide: John Warnke at jmwhusky42@yahoo.com

nettybo said...

I also wonder what happened to the piano. Let me know!