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The Bar Next Door
Place - The Bar Next Door
222 E. Olin Avenue
Madison, Wisconsin 53713
(608) 256-9430 * Web-site
The Bar Next Door is located in an
unpopulated area of Madison between John Nolen Dr. and Quann Olin
Parkway, just north of Alliant Energy Center and Expo Pond, just
East of Quann Park, not far from the Coliseum.
DESCRIPTION AND HISTORY:
Tom and I hunted down THE
BAR NEXT DOOR on E. Orlin Avenue What we found was a funky,
long in the tooth but full of character, 2 story brick building
with two tower-like structures, adorned with a little
Ivy. It was closed, but taking a peek inside the front
window, one sees booths with green cushions and a bar area, with a
1930s aura about the place. One source said that the original back
bar, fireplace are still there and the entrance to the old tunnel
still in tact. On the second floor, there is a large banquet room
which seats 50 and office space.
THE BAR NEXT DOOR building
was constructed in 1929, with ulterior motives in mind. This
building was built by Chicago Irish mob figure, Roger "The
terrible" Touhy, as not only to be a legitimate roadhouse, The
Wonder Bar, but to also be a distribution center for illegal
booze/beer and slot machines in the Madison area and areas farther
north, as well as being a safe house for traveling gangsters.
The Touhy brothers, whose gang was based in Des Plaines, Illinois,
added some touches to the building to make this roadhouse into a
fortress, in case it needed to be one. With Al Capone
as a ruthless rival and a buyer for their beer, it needed the
It's not surprising then,
that custom-designed features were added, including turreted
booths in which no one's back was to the front door, made bullet
proof, bomb proof, had bulletproof glass, round lookout windows in
some rooms, hidden compartments under the windowsills to store
Thompson submachine guns, hidden compartments in other parts of the
building and a secret tunnel for hasty escapes. All these items
would come in handy, in case of a siege attack from cops or
other mob soldiers from competing gangs, wanting to
muscle in on the Touhy's black market business success.
While Roger Touhy built
this building, his brother Eddie Touhy ran both businesses; the
roadhouse and the distribution of the illegal beer/slot
Throughout the years after
the demise of the Touhy gang The Wonder Bar continued on as
a legitimate business, probably run at first by surviving family
members, becoming at some point, the first cigar bar, featuring
stogies with beer. In 1993, The bar changed hands and became
THE BAR NEXT DOOR, which still offered cigars but returned to a
more traditional format.
At some time, THE BAR NEXT
DOOR was bought by the company who owns the The
Coliseum Bar, and now have added the Touhy's arch enemy's name
to the title of the Touhy's roadhouse: Capone's Bar Next Door,
according to their web-page for the place. I bet some folks are spinning
in their graves! Hopefully the owners will do some improvements to
the bar, which needs some TLC.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS:
By 1934, the Touhy gang was finished, with
eleven members behind bars and three shot dead. The Wonder Bar
survived at least one shootout from the gang's enemies. Despite the
bullet-proof precautions, people did die here. It is said that a
human body was buried behind the fireplace in the upstairs banquet
room, a casualty of such a shootout. It is thought that Eddie
Touhy's remains are laid to rest here. In the FBI report, Eddie Touhy wasn't mentioned
at all, because he was probably already dead; disappearing behind
the fireplace, to hide his demise from enemies.
The living have smelled the
following aromas which last about an hour before going away, at a
time when there is no logical source in this world for these odors:
Strong body odor caused by sweating, citrus aromas, and a musty
smell in the air.
Footsteps have been heard
coming down the stairs late at night after the bar has closed.
Sounds of rattling glasses, and loud
Staff have the felt a
presence following them in the stairwells.
Staff have been poked in the back by an
Chairs have the habit of moving around
after the bar is closed and void of human life, as if being used
for a gathering or discussion.
Portraits have lifted
themselves off wall, falling to the ground. (Entities showing
displeasure in the decorum?)
Bottles and cigar boxes
have been known to be knocked off secure shelves by an unseen
Cigar boxes have been seen
to be moved around the display case, as if being checked out by an
unseen, but interested presence who would probably like to try
Doors have slammed closed without the
benefit of a wind or human hands.
Shadow people have been
spotted by staff and customers alike.
After closing time, staff have seen a
male apparition wearing a 1930s style, soft felt hat, known
as a fedora, popular among gangster types, and a long
coat. A female apparition accompanies him, described as having long
red hair, wearing a white dress.
Yes Indeed! There are plenty of eye witness
accounts from management, staff and patrons. Probably the entity of
Eddie Touhy and his main squeeze are still keeping an eye on
things. Other entities of Touhy mob soldiers/visting gangsters are
probably here as well, still working for the Touhy family
organization, following the staff around, perhaps poking them in
the back for chuckles.
prairieghosts.com * cityguide.aol.com
fbi.gov * thecoliseumbar.com
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