photo: courtesy of Bridget Cicenia; pictured: Amber Bree opens the door to Red Lion's haunted bathroom
The countdown to Halloween is a foreplay that inspires the most skeptical minds to believe—if for only a short while—that the dead walk among us. In a city rife with brazen paranormal activity, much of it originating from our historical flirtations with vice, there's no better way to summon the spirits than in a cozy pub with a sordid past. Forget sitting around a campfire and telling ghost stories. Pull up a bar stool and take your haunting with a shot of whiskey.
The hippie hippie shakes at the Tonic Room
Surely, this trendy Lincoln Park lounge with sleek furnishings and hip-hop music couldn't possibly be housing any phantom tenants, right? But long-time bartender Robert Newman explains that EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) Researchers captured the voice of a young woman in the building. The woman, who was purportedly murdered in the basement, revealed her social security number and they discovered her name was Mary Haggerty. The low-slung, five-foot-tall basement once housed a series of tiny stalls used in the seances of a fringe occult group that inhabited the building during the '60s. Two well-worn pentagrams still cover large parts of the floor and an oxidized dagger, adorned with a skull and a cross, was found embedded in a wall during a recent renovation. The Tonic Room folks are fairly certain it belonged to the clan of black-magic hippies that did the decorating down here.
A drunken flirt at Ole St. Andrew's Inn
It's said that Frank Giff has an affinity for taunting redheads, so those with copper locks who enter Edgewater's most haunted pub rightfully worry it may lead to ghoulish trouble. Nearly 50 years ago, the pub owner drunkenly stumbled behind the bar, falling with great force on his head. The next morning he was found dead by his red-headed wife, and his spirit decided to stick around. Throughout the years the pub, which was initially called Frank Giff's Pub before being rechristened The Edinburgh Castle and finally becoming Ole St. Andrews Inn, has experienced a glut of ghostly activity. Stemware has flown from shelves, ashtrays have flung themselves from the bar and many a female customer has reported the ice-cold fondlings of an over-eager (albeit invisible) flirt. Giff was passionate about ladies and liquor, with a particular taste for vodka, a substance that has continually disappeared from the bar's inventory for 50 years; bottles—open or sealed—often inexplicably drain overnight.
This Ukie dive was once a vice-ridden enclave tucked into the seediest stretch of Division Street. Illegal boozing, rampant gambling and loose women called the Gold Star home, and the victim of a 1950s murder still hangs out around the front doorway, supposedly. Wonder how the ghost feels about the way the neighborhood's changed?
Looking for more ways to celebrate the season? We've got you covered with scarily accurate info on:
House Party Essentials
Creepy Chicago Tours