THREATENED: After 98 Years in Business, Southport Lanes Contents To Be Auctioned Off

“Southport Lanes is ready to auction off all of its belongings, including the sign hanging over the entrance, bowling lanes and the 99-year-old bar surface, after efforts to bring the Lakeview business into a second century fell short.

“The bar, restaurant and bowling alley at 3325 N. Southport Ave. is permanently closed after efforts to revive the business were unsuccessful, said Lacey Irby, a spokeswoman for the group that owns the building at Southport and Henderson Street. The business had reopened in mid-July after coronavirus restrictions lifted before closing again in the fall, and has not reopened since.

“‘After giving it a lot of thought, building ownership decided to go the route of auctioning off the assets for the business formerly known as Southport Lanes,’ Irby said. ‘Ownership, unfortunately, does not see the business recovering any time soon, so the business is now permanently closed.’

“Southport Lanes closed last September after 98 years in business. Its colorful and often unlawful history included times as a tavern, bowling alley, speak-easy, brothel and illegal off-track horse betting venue.

“Glenview-based Winternitz Industrial Auctioneers & Appraisers will sell Southport Lanes’ equipment and furnishings in an online auction from July 13 through July 20. Items for sale include the venue’s famous sign, bowling lanes and equipment, and pool tables and equipment, according to the Winternitz website. Other items available in the auction include kitchen equipment, televisions, furniture and two large murals.

“The property was one of many ornate structures built by breweries in Chicago in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. So-called “tied houses” sold only beers of a particular brewery, including a few Schlitz buildings such as the one that housed Southport Lanes.

“The Schlitz building on Southport became a bowling alley and took on its current name during Prohibition. That was in the aftermath of the 1918 pandemic that killed more than 50 million people, which is often referred to as the Spanish flu.

“Irby said the building is not on the market for sale, but she declined to comment otherwise on what the property’s owners plan to do with it.” (Ori, Chicago Tribune, 7/7/21)

The Southport Lanes is a cherished Chicago Legacy Business and the Southport Lanes Building was originally Schlitz Brewery Tied-House. The Southport Lanes Building was eligible to become a Designated Chicago Landmark as part of the Schlitz Brewery Tied-House Landmark District. At that time, ownership refused to consent to landmark designation. Now that the business is closed and the building a likely candidate for demolition, immediate steps should be taken to add it to the Schlitz Brewery Tied-House Landmark District.

The Southport Lanes building was constructed as a Schlitz Tied House with its prominent ‘Schlitz Belted Globe’ insignia which was introduced at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 prominently appearing on the building’s facade. The Southport Lanes building is included in the CHRS-Chicago Historic Resources and is listed by its address at 3325 N. Southport. It is orange-rated and was designed by Kley & Lang in 1898. The architectural firm of Kley & Lang was known for their designs of brewery related tied houses, small commercial buildings, and there’s another Schlitz Tied House designed by this same firm that’s a Designated Chicago Landmark at 3456 S. Western Avenue.

Read the full story at Chicago Tribune

Southport Lanes is not coming back from COVID-19. Everything, including the iconic sign and bowling lanes, will be sold by auction, Ryan Ori, Chicago Tribune, 7/7/21

Southport Lanes reopening scrapped; items to be auctioned; The former Schlitz-tied tavern in Lake View couldn’t bounce back from the pandemic despite getting state and federal money, David Roeder, Chicago Sun-Times, 7/7/21

Column: Let’s toast the architecture of Chicago’s beer buildings, even if this isn’t happy hour for some of them, Blair Kamin Column, Chicago Tribune, 10/01/20


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