Kankakee Illinois Hospital trampling ground for Al Capone

Al Capone, also known as one of Chicago’s most notorious gangster bosses, had a host of retreats and vacation spots where he could disconnect from his extremely busy life of murder and mayhem and indulge in some peaceful R&R. These include St. Paul MN, Hot Springs AR, as well as some lesser-known hideouts where you could remain anonymous, such as French Lick IN, Brookfield WI, Olean NY, Lansing MI, Dubuque IA, and Johnson City, TN. But one of Scarface Al’s favorite plots was much closer to his home, in Kankakee, as the Kankakee Illinois hospital was well known to Chicagoans looking to have a good time. Kankakee County towns had a reputation in the 1920s and ’30s for being fun, open places where everything went.

Kankakee County’s motto was “Just an hour from Chicago, but a world apart.” According to Jorie Walters, a researcher at the Kankakee County Museum, there isn’t much written documentation about Al Capone’s influence in the area, but everyone knows the real truth. Walters’ information was obtained from books, history columns in the Kankakee Daily Journal, oral histories, and old museum archives. She says some of the local dives that were owned or frequented by Scarface Al include the Bradley Illinois Motel Hawaii; a safe house in L’Erable on the Iroquois River that was extremely well fortified against unexpected and unwanted visitors; Nel Clark’s, a Kankakee brothel now called City Tavern; The Sahara restaurant on Fifth Avenue in Kankakee; and the Radeke Brewery, also in Kankakee, which was secretly owned by Al Capone in the 1920s and 1930s. Kankakee was also the hometown of Fred Burke’s moll. Burke was Capone’s chief executor who planned and executed the 1929 Valentine’s Day massacre against the Bugs Moran gang.

Another of Scarface Al’s favorite spots was the Miami Gardens near Peotone Illinois Hospital, which was both a bar and a brothel on Prohibition Days and is now called Edwin’s bar. Scarface Al had a reputation for being the main taster of the products he offered in his brothels. Miami Gardens had high, ornate ceilings made of tin, and there was a secret garage with room for twenty cars in the basement of the building that’s riddled with bullet holes in the walls. Rumor has it that mafia executions were carried out in this hidden garage. Another favorite hangout was Club 54 restaurant near Manteno Illinois Hospital (just south of Manteno where Governor’s Highway meets 500E). This restaurant was actually a brothel.

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