by Camellia August. 11, 2019 300 views

The Chicago Varnish Company Building is a rare Chicago example of Dutch Renaissance Revival-style architecture, marked by distinctive stepped gables and materials (red brick and light stone) of contrasting color. It was designed by Henry Ives Cobb and it is the only remaining example of 19th century Dutch Renaissance Architecture left in the city.

After an extensive rehabilitation, including replacement of the multigabled clay tile roof and rebuilding the stepped parapets, Harry Caray's Italian Steakhouse opened in the building on October 23, 1987.

Long before this building became was one of Chicago’s most famous steakhouses, it was home to the notorious enforcer of the Al Capone gang, Frank Nitti. He lived in an apartment on the fourth floor with his wife Annette, who’s family owned the building. This was a convenient hideout for him as the courthouse building was clearly visible from the apartment.

Relics from his life of crime were uncovered in 1998 when an electrician drilled a hole in the wall of the basement that revealed a hidden room spanning the width of the upstairs bar. This room was used as a hideout during the Prohibition era as well as a passageway to Chicago’s underground tunnel system, allowing Nitti and his associates to come and go without being seen on the streets of Chicago.

Now referred to as Nitti’s Vault, the secret room and the possessions discovered within it, can be seen in the basement of this building along with photographs, newspaper articles and legal documents from Nitti’s life. One of the most exciting finds was a large safe with three layers of security buried in the basement walls. Also found was  Nitti’s personal address book, listing the home addresses and phone numbers of powerful government officials and mobsters. Nitti's Vault has been named #1 on Thrillist's list of Hidden Urban Treasures. ( source)

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David Swatton 1 month ago

Interesting story and I imagine the place is well worth a visit.

1 month ago Edited
Bethany Plonski 1 month ago

Such a unique building, and how interesting about the Nitti Vault. Thanks for sharing!

1 month ago Edited
Buster Bruce 1 month ago

Photographic art to its fullest Camellia! Most interesting series. Thanks for sharing.

1 month ago Edited
Camellia Replied to Buster Bruce 1 month ago

Thank you for stopping by smile

1 month ago Edited
Jay Boggess 1 month ago

Wonderful subject, super camera work and fascinating info!grinning

1 month ago Edited
Camellia Replied to Jay Boggess 1 month ago

Thank you smile

1 month ago Edited
Jay Boggess Replied to Camellia 1 month ago

Always a pleasure, Sis!

1 month ago Edited
Lynn F Medley 1 month ago

How cool that this building remains , so much detail! Thank you for sharing the story too 🙂

1 month ago Edited
Camellia Replied to Lynn F Medley 1 month ago

Glad you like it smile

1 month ago Edited
Heidi Egerman 1 month ago

What a wild history this building has. Love the architecture.

1 month ago Edited
Camellia Replied to Heidi Egerman 1 month ago

Quite interesting smile

1 month ago Edited
Sherry Hill 1 month ago

interesting place.. from a distance it looks like a lego house.. lol..

1 month ago Edited
Camellia Replied to Sherry Hill 1 month ago

I agree. Definitely eye catching.

1 month ago Edited