Famed Al Capone’s Hideout to be sold
by Kathy Hanson
Published: Thursday, August 27, 2009 10:39 PM CDT
After a Sept. 5 judgment of foreclosure, The Hideout, Inc. — the once-notorious Northwoods retreat of Chicago gangster Al Capone — is scheduled to be sold at public auction at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 8 at the Sawyer County Courthouse.
The Notice of Sheriff’s Sale lists Chippewa Valley Bank as the plaintiff and Guy E. Houston and Michelle D. Houston, The Hideout, Inc., and Johnson Bank as defendants in the foreclosure. According to Jeffrey Guettinger of the Richie, Guettinger & Manydeeds law firm in Eau Claire, the minimum bid is $2.6 million for the real estate and anything attached.
Guettinger said the public auction will include just the real estate, not any personal property or furnishings. Additional property located on the Chippewa Flowage is not part of the sale, but a private, 40-acre lake on the property is included. The estimated 400-acre property was built in the 1920s by Capone, the famed organized crime figure and gangster who trafficked then-illegal alcohol during the Prohibition era of the 1920s and 1930s. The estate was used as his Northwoods retreat — and some say a liquor smuggling headquarters — where Capone spent his summer months between 1925 to 1931. The cost to build it at that time was $250,000.
In 1959 it was turned into a museum and restaurant site by E.N. Houston, and 40-minute guided tours of the stone and log house and the nine other buildings were offered. The house has 18-inch fieldstone walls, a hand-cut stone fireplace and custom spiral staircases built in Chicago.
There is also a secret bunkhouse, a blockhouse with a private jail cell, an exercise yard and guard (gun) tower. The grounds also include a boathouse and a caretaker’s cottage.
A building that now houses a restaurant, gift shop and snack bar originally was an eight-car garage where Capone kept his black limousines. The Roaring 20s museum once offered a display of the 1929 St. Valentine’s Massacre, as well as memorabilia of Elliott Ness.
Without notice, the Hideout was reported closed in May of this year. The signage on Highway CC has been removed, and the phone service and website has been disconnected. A “No Trespassing” sign hangs at the gate entrance, located at 12101 West County Road CC, Couderay.
The legal terms, as listed in the Notice of Sheriff’s Sale, include:
• A down payment of 10 percent cash or certified check at the time of sale, with the balance payable upon confirmation by the court.
• The sale is subject to all unpaid real estate taxes and special assessments.
• The purchaser must pay any Wisconsin real estate transfer fee.
• The property is being sold on an “as is” basis without warranties or representations of any kind.
• The purchaser will be responsible for obtaining possession of property.