By Megan Horst-Hatch
With its illustrious history, it’s no wonder Chicago is home to more than a few ghosts. Ranging from the friendly to the fiendish, spirits allegedly haunting some of Chicago’s bars and nightclubs can create a memorable experience for staff and customers alike. Where might you meet some of these ghosts? The following list will get you started.
632 N. Dearborn St.
Chicago, IL 60654
Built in 1892 and opened as a club in 1989, Excalibur looks like the perfect setting for a broody supernatural thriller. Featuring Romanesque Revival architecture and designed by Henry Ives Cobb, the nightclub’s castle-like structure creates a dramatic appearance. But enough about architecture; let’s talk ghosts. According to Phil Rizzo, the nightclub’s director of marketing and promotions, Excalibur supposedly has a few ghosts on its premises, giving it the dubious distinction of being one of the most haunted locations in Chicago. “I have heard toilets running by themselves when no one else is around,” Rizzo said. “When I put up posters in the club before it opens, I always find one turned upside down a few minutes later, and it’s always in the same spot on the wall.” Rizzo also said that many of the supernatural events occur before the club opens to guests. For instance, bottles might suspiciously get knocked down and one of Rizzo’s colleagues saw a red balloon suddenly appear out of the ceiling. “What’s weird about the balloon is that we didn’t have anything like that planned at the club, so we had no idea where the balloon came from,” Rizzo said.
What makes it haunted? Legend has it that the original building on the site burned down during the Chicago Fire in 1871, taking the lives of several people trapped inside. Their spirits still haunt the nightclub today. To get up close and personal with the supernatural, Excalibur hosts “Supernatural Chicago” with necromancer Neil Tobin every Friday night. If you’d rather raise a glass to the ghosts, Excalibur offers a variety of lounges and rooms for private and bachelorette parties. Live entertainment, dining, dancing and arcade games are also available at the nightclub and trendy club attire is encouraged. Guests must be 21 or over to enter Excalibur.
Quigley’s Irish Pub
43 E. Jefferson St.
Naperville, IL 60540
What’s an Irish pub without a few ghosts on the premises? Quigley’s Irish Pub, located in the Jefferson Hill building, was built in 1845. Once part of Naperville Mayor F.A. Kendall’s home, the pub features an antique fireplace and bookcase shipped over from Dublin. According to Quigley’s bartender Peter Ward, the pub has been the site of several supernatural occurrences. “We’ve heard noises that can’t be explained after hours,” Ward said. On two different occasions, a ghost believed to be a lady in a white dress appeared behind Ward while he was pouring drinks for another customer. But not to worry, the ghosts at Quigley’s aren’t mean. “We’ve had two different customers who experienced the paranormal both say that the ghosts in the pub are friendly,” Ward said.
Paranormal activity aside, Quigley’s offers live entertainment and pub classics for breakfast, lunch and dinner, including the traditional Irish breakfast, hamburgers and shepherd’s pie. Its beer selection includes Harp, Smithwick’s, Guinness, Newcastle and Miller. Children are welcome at the pub and a kid’s menu is available.
Cigars and Stripes
6715 W. Ogden Ave.
Berwyn, IL 60402
Shaken or stirred, you’ve probably never seen a martini shaker flip upside down on its own. But according to an article by Deborah L. Solomon of the Berwyn/Cicero Gazette, Cigars and Stripes has had some unusual instances. Paranormal activities have occurred throughout the bar’s history including a phone lifting by itself, a shadowy figure appearing in the doorway and unexplained noises. What’s behind the hauntings? There are a few possibilities. The bar might be haunted by the ghost of a police officer who died of a heart attack on site or by a former patron.
If you want to check out the supernatural events at the bar, you might want a glass of beer beforehand. The bar’s beer menu is ever-changing. Some current beers on tap include Boulevard Dry Stout, Duvel Green, Sierra Nevada Torpedo and Coney Island Albino Python. Cigars and Stripes also offers food and amazing hot wings. True to its name, the bar has a smoke shop featuring more than 100 brands of fine cigars.
2447 N. Halsted St.
Chicago, IL 60614
Built in the 1920s, the Tonic Room has seen numerous changes. At one point, it was a brothel and a hangout spot for a North Side Irish gang. According to the Tonic Room’s website, author Ursula Bielski noted that patrons and staff have seen apparitions in both the basement and the main bar. Today, the artist-friendly Tonic Room features a variety of bands and open-mic night on Mondays, as well as a full bar. Guests must be 21 or over to enter.
1658 Cortland St.
Chicago, IL 60622
What’s so scary about the Bucktown Pub? According to TrueIllinoisHaunts.com, the pub is believed to be haunted by the site’s former owner who committed suicide in 1986 and whose spirit apparently thinks he still runs the place. Napkins are rearranged over night and the jukebox has been known to turn on and off by itself. But there’s more to the Bucktown than a ghost who won’t quit. The pub’s beer on tap includes Virtue RedStreak Cider, Guinness, Bell’s Oberon and Stella Artois. The Bucktown also serves pizza and allows leashed dogs on the premises until 8 p.m.
Megan Horst-Hatch is a mother, runner, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She loves nothing more than a great cupcake, and writes at I’m a Trader Joe’s Fan. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.