Chicago is the third largest city in the United States. It is known for its amazing architecture. Chicago’s skyline view is well-loved because of the famous skyscrapers seen there.
A photo of Chicago’s skyline. (Link: http://www.affiliatedinc.com/are-fire-alarm-strobes-required-in-the-city-of-chicago/chicago-skyline/)
Chicago, Illinois is also known for being haunted. Allegedly, the Former Chicago Historical Society Building has had a haunted past that people can still feel the energy of the past events in the area.
A photo of the Former Chicago Historical Society Building. (Link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/uicdigital/6852823313)
The History Of Former Chicago Historical Society Building
The Former Chicago Historical Society Building was built in 1892. It is located at 632 N. Dearborn Street. It’s a pretty famous building not just because it is haunted but because of its architecture. It is one of the best examples of Henry Ives Cobb’s Richardsonian Romanesque architecture. The home was designed for one Walter Loomis Newberry, the founder of the Newberry Library in the area.
An old illustration of the Former Chicago Historical Society Building. (Link: https://www.pinterest.ph/pin/289004501072308455/)
Later, the building became the place where Chicago Historical Society was housed. Their original headquarters burned during the Great Chicago Fire so they moved in the said building. The building also later housed a magazine publisher, the Chicago Institute of Design, the Loyal Order of Moose, and the Works Progress Administration during different times. During the 50s and the 60s, the Former Chicago Historical Society Building also became recording studios. In 1985, it has been converted to a place where nightclubs were put up.
The first nightclub operated in the building was The Limelight from 1985 to 1989. Later, the owner of that nightclub, Peter Gatien, bought the whole building then sold it to Fred Hoffman. Hoffman then renovated the building and opened the nightclubs called Excalibur and Vision in 1989. Many artists like Rihanna, Moby, Gareth Emery, Paul can Dyk, and many more played there. The nightclubs finally closed in 2012.
A photo of the Former Chicago Historical Society Building when it became the Excalibur. (Link: https://www.flickriver.com/photos/zol87/2844299255/)
On the same year, the building was remodeled and became Castle Chicago. It had three nightclubs, a restaurant, a lounge, a cocktail bar, and areas for private events. In 2014, Castle Chicago ceased operations. By 2018 up to present, it became the location of Hybrid Asian Cuisine/ Nightclub.
Inside the Former Chicago Historical Society Building Today. (Link: https://chicago.eater.com/2017/4/5/15193208/tao-chicago-renderings-images-clubstaurant-river-north-former-castle)
The Haunted Past Of Former Chicago Historical Society Building
The Former Chicago Historical Society Building reportedly became a morgue in the past after the SS Eastland capsized in the Chicago River. Allegedly, 844 bodies were recovered from the disaster. Many believed that they were taken to the Former Chicago Historical Society Building but some claim that there was a confusion. Accordingly, the photos showing the bodies while they were being identified were labeled with the words “courtesy of Chicago Historical Society.” This gave rise to the legend that the bodies were taken to the building when in fact only the photos were supplied by the Chicago Historical Society.
Another story surrounding the Former Chicago Historical Society Building says that the bones of Jean LaLime, a trader from Quebec, Canada and one of the early settlers in Chicago, were stored in the building. LaLime died after a drunken brawl. His bones were unearthed during a construction near the Rush Street Bridge. LaLime’s bones were then given to the historical society. Allegedly, he haunts the area in the building where his bones are stored.
Jean LaLime’s bones. (Link: https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/jean-lalime-john-kinzie-chicagos-first-murder/Content?oid=60305291)
Some also claim that many people have died in the building over the years. There are a lot of stories about people committing suicide by hanging themselves from the ceiling and that children have died because they were left unattended in the elevator shafts.
The Paranormal Activities At The Former Chicago Historical Society Building
Most of the paranormal activities at the Former Chicago Historical Society Building took place when the Excalibur was still in operation.
Staff and party-goers have witnessed strange apparitions at the said nightclub. Others have reported being pushed down the stairs and over the railing by an invisible force. Also, a candle located on top of a wall, which could not be reached without a ladder, lights itself every now and then. The employees have always been confused about this happening.
People lining up at the Excalibur in the past. (Link: https://www.pinterest.ph/pin/501588477220382800/)
The ghost of a girl was also reportedly spotted wandering around the nightclub during different hours of the day. It is believed that the ghost of a girl belongs to one Mary, whose cause of death remains unknown.
After closing time, opened beer bottles and creepy noises could be found and heard on the tables downstairs.
Necromancer Neil Tobin of “Supernatural Chicago,” shared that a group of women actually sought refuge at the Former Chicago Historical Society Building during the Great Chicago Fire but they were also burned alive there. He also claimed that the story about the bodies from the capsized ship was true and that a rich lawyer once purchased the building and hanged himself there.